Red Hot Pioneers Burn Bison, 79-55

Final score 79-55 – and it wasn’t even that close.

Denver put together their best all-around game of the Rodney Billups era.

Pioneer fans were treated to a basketball clinic as Denver (11-7, 3-2) ran roughshod over one of the top teams in the Summit League, North Dakota State (12-6, 4-1) . Sure it was a home game but the the Denver squad gave fans a glimpse of what Rodney Billups “play fast” basketball looks like – on both ends of the floor. The Pioneers, led by a dominant Daniel Amigo’s 28 points and 12 rebounds, thrashed North Dakota State University on the offensive end and shut down their penetrating offensive drives on the defensive end. 

A Denver Post article on Daniel Amigo earlier in the week, largely positive, but also critical seemed to fire up Amigo as he displayed a dominating all-around presence –  running the floor, defending, and dominating in the offensive and defensive paint.

This was by far Denver’s best game of the year. With Daniel Amigo dominating down low, DU took advantage of close-in opportunities for easy buckets as well as deadly perimeter sharpshooting with  48.3% from the floor using crisp passing and smart shot selection. Denver held NDSU to a miserly 31.7% from the field. Denver crushed the Bison on the boards by a massive margin, 49-27.

In the first 5 plus minutes of play, four Daniel Amigo layups gave DU a 12-8 advantage.The next five minutes, the teams traded punches but a Thomas Neff 3-point shot at 9:20 gave DU a 18 – 13 lead. Joe Rosga and Thomas Neff hammered home 3-pointers and Daniel Amigo had a layup and a couple of free throws to build a 28-15 lead with 5:22 to go in the first half. In the final four minutes, Daniel Amigo and Jake Krafka buckets were followed by a pair of three point bombs from Jake Pemberton and Joe Rosga to balloon DU’s lead. A C.J. Bobbitt lay-up and free throw was followed by a Bison foul on Thomas Neff and 2 made free throws to give DU a 20 point advantage at half, 23-43.

Sure, the Pioneers earned a huge lead but could they hold it when the Bison made the inevitable surge in the second half?

The teams started trading baskets in the second half and a jump shot from NDSU’s Dylan Miller at 15:39 cut DU’s lead to 49-30. Then, a 3-pointer by the Bison’s Paul Miller made it 49-33, a 16 point lead for Denver.  C.J. Bobbitt countered with two layups and a free throw to take DU up 54-33 @ 14:26. Christian Mackey got into the lineup during the middle of the half and added immediate energy, rebounds, and tough points. Denver continued to extend the lead with an all-out effort by the entire team. Denver jacked the lead up to 71-44 with two C.J. Bobbitt free throws at 4:53 and the game was essentially over. The teams traded buckets and Denver emptied their bench. The game ended 79-55, a thorough dismantling of NDSU.

Rodney Billups explained that the Pioneer formula was, “Being aggressive and playing how we want to play. Our guys were ready and fired up to play (the undefeated Summit League Bison). We just executed the game plan.”  And, of course, Daniel Amigo was in the discussion as well, “Daniel is such a  big part of our team. We need to keep our eyes on him (rest & fouls).  I am trying different things to help him. We have to do a better job of keeping him engaged in the games.”

A nice birthday present for head coach Rodney Billups.