Denver Goes Deep For 93-69 Road Win

Good teams win games they are supposed to win.

Denver (14-9, 6-4) did just that tonight in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the Pioneers got contributions from their bench (20 points), shot a blistering 58.9% (vs. 43.4%) from the field, clobbered ORU on the boards (36-26) and shot 68.6% (11-16) from downtown to put their stamp on the game and sweep ORU in Summit League play.

A late first half surge seemed to fuel the romp.

The first half Oral Roberts pulled away from Denver after Daniel Amigo, scoring a quick 8 points, picked up his second foul and went to the bench at the 12:39 mark.  For the next 7 minutes, ORU moved the ball inside the paint, behind 8 points from big man Emmanuel Nzekwesi and 14 points from senior guard Aaron Anderson, to extend the Golden Eagle lead to 10 points, 33-23. The game was slipping away on the Pioneers as ORU moved the ball inside nearly at will and punished Denver’s smaller line-up. But in the final 5 minutes, Denver’s interior defense held strong. Thomas Neff and Jake Pemberton caught fire and the Pioneers went on an 8 point run. A desperation 3-point bomb by Jake Pemberton at the horn found net to finish the half with an 11 point run and Denver trailing by only one point 34-35.

The second half was all about a deep Denver squad grinding down the Golden Eagles. Joe Rosga, held scoreless in the first half, gave Denver its first lead 43-42 at 16:31. Daniel Amigo picked up his 3rd foul at 14:44 but Christian Mackey came into the game and added a spark. A Jake Pemberton tray extended DU’s lead to 5, 50-45. Then, C.J. Bobbitt scored a 3-point basket and followed that bucket with another field goal to extend the lead to six. That set off DU’s run as a host of Denver players scored – a Joe Rosga Floater, an Ade Murkey driving layup, and a 3-point shot beyond the arc by C.J. Bobbitt built a 66-57 lead with 7:55 to go in the game. DU broke the game wide open with back-to-back 3-point shots from Thomas Neff and Joe Rosga to balloon DU’s lead to 76-61 at the 4:23 mark. A Joe Rosga bucket-and-1 added an exclamation point with 3:35 remaining and an 80-65 lead – and the rout was on. Denver kept hitting shots and making stops until the clock ran out –  DU 93, ORU 69.

Daniel Amigo who played sick during the game came on strong the second half and finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds and only 3 fouls. Red hot shooting Jake Pemberton chipped in with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Joe Rosga had 15 points in the decisive second half and C.J. Bobbitt and Ade Murkey chipped in with 10 points each.

After the game, Rodney Billups cited “energy and effort” as reasons for the important road win. “We did not make any adjustments (at half). We got stops and our offense started clicking because of our defense. (Going forward) we have to play 38-40 minutes to win against good teams.” Despite Joe Rosga’s slow start, Billups appreciated his overall contribution and game management, “Joe had 7 rebounds and 6 assists – he affected the game – not just scoring. His leadership is getting better every game.”

Next up is the showdown against a strong Fort Wayne (16-7, 5-4) team at Magness Arena Saturday at 4:00 pm MT. Both teams have 4 losses and are fighting for the top third of the conference standings and a good seed for the conference tournament.




8 thoughts on “Denver Goes Deep For 93-69 Road Win”

  1. What an impressive win! From the time the Pios were down 33-23 they ended the game by outscoring ORU 70-36. Wow.

    Another interesting thing: the current kenpom rankings show a clear separation in the Summit League. Fort Wayne (#125), NDSU (#132), and Denver (#136) are clumped together as the three best teams in the league. Below them are South Dakota (#168) and Omama (#194). So it’s not just the eye test that sees Denver as a legit contender for best team in the conference, the computers agree.

    The Fort Wayne game is going to be huge, hopefully Magness will be packed. It will also be interesting to see what happens in the South Dakota at Omaha game tomorrow – Denver could be back in second place at this time tomorrow night.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was some second half on the road…Team is coming together. Very impressive road result in conference play, even though DU should win that game. Gotta keep moving the ball around and playing good defense.

    RPI number is far more important number than the KenPom number, although KenPom is the better ranking system. NCAA tourney selection, and recruiting decisions run on the RPI. Before tonight’s win, DU was sitting at #177 out of #340 or so. Would love to see that number at 150 or better come playoff time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great road win, beat a team you have to beat, even accounting for the mercurial first half. Tonight’s star was Pemberton and ORU couldn’t stop Amigo. Ade Murkey is quite the slasher, he’s going to be special.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The next game with Fort Wayne will tell us a lot about the Pios’ ability to defend home court against a faster and more talented league opponent. What I like about Billups is the Pios’ ability to space the court, play big inside with Amigo and Mackey, bomb three balls from Pemberton, Rosga and Neff, and driving the ball inside with Rosga, Bobbit, Murkey and Douglas.

    When two of the three of those options are working for the Pios, DU is in every game they play. When all three work, DU wins the game. And when DU holds teams to 80 points or fewer, they are 13-1. That last defensive piece is the most inconsistent piece of the puzzle. DU generally takes more fouls than they other team, usually because they lack quickness and must play catch up with more athletic opponents. And as the games wear on and the DU fouls mount, DU is forced to be less aggressive to not foul out, which in turn makes it easier for good opponents to build on leads or make runs to get separation.

    Billups needs to find a way to keep running 10 guys in and out of the linup who can play tough D, keep their spacing, be active with feet and not get into too much foul trouble, especially dumb fouls like reach-ins.

    For a team with no seniors to be where they are at 14-9, it’s pretty damn amazing. I would have thought .500 would be an achievement. Amigo and Rosga are both all-Summit league quality when they play their games. Pemberton has totally blossomed into a very capable, versatile player who is a glue guy. When those three guys are all going, DU is very tough to beat. Neff, Bobbitt, Mackey and Murkey are all guys who have shown up at times in gig ways, but are still searching for consistency. Go Pios!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a great point Puck. Billups has a saying about this team that it trite but true – “The strength of the (DU) team is the team”. Denver plays 11 deep and that is different than the rest of the team’s in conference.


  5. If you’ll allow me to get crazy for a minute (that is half the fun of sports after all) – with NDSU’s loss tonight, Denver is still very much in contention for a share of the Summit League title.

    Current top of the Summit:
    NDSU: 7-2
    Denver: 6-4
    South Dakota: 6-4
    Fort Wayne: 5-4
    Omaha: 5-5

    Right now Denver would probably be favored in 5 of their last 6 games, the exception being at NDSU. Meanwhile NDSU still has to go to Fort Wayne and Omaha. South Dakota has a real tough road left, including at NDSU, at Fort Wayne, at IUPUI.

    It would almost certainly take a Denver victory at NDSU, but if the Pios could do that, winning at least a share of the conference title would be within their grasp.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Add South Dakota falling tonight to IUPUI makes the race even more interesting. I do not think you are thinking crazy Chris. Saturday just turned into an even bigger game for Denver to make a move.


  6. What we have here is Summit League of filled to the brim with perfectly mediocre mid majors. This year, that’s exactly what we are, and I am very happy to be mediocre, considering the coaching change, the playing style change and the fact that the team has no playing seniors.

    At 14-9. all we probably feel pretty good about our record this year, but there is a reason DU is ranked #178 in RPI, almost exactly at the midpoint of the 351 D-I teams in the RPI – our strength of schedule isn’t exactly top SOS Louisville’s, either, at the Pios sit 292 out of 315 in SOS.


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