One of DU’s most anticipated basketball seasons kicked off Monday evening at Hamilton Gym. Denver men’s basketball faced the Idaho Vandals in the opener for both squads. Denver was the better team, winning 68-63, despite going 17-33 from the free throw line. It was 50% shooting from the field for the Pioneers and solid perimeter defense, limiting the Vandals to 6 of 30 from downtown. Rising star Tevin Smith led DU with 23 points and point guard Tommy Bruner (12 points) nailed timely shots to spur the season-opening win. On the night, Denver corralled 36 rebounds, 6 more than the Vandals.
Denver started slowly but a Lukas Kisunas assist to Tevin Smith gave Denver a 16-15 lead at 10:40 of the first half. A Justin Mullins jumper put DU up 18-15 as the teams traded buckets the final ten minutes. Denver could never extend their lead beyond three points. In the final two minutes, DU collected all the points with a jumper by Tyree Corbin and a free throw from Tevin Smith to put Denver up by five at the break, 35-30. DU shot 50% from the field during the first half and Idaho shot 42% from the field and a tepid 3 of 14 from three-point range.
— Denver Men's Basketball (@DU_MensHoops) November 8, 2022
DU Basketball Twitter: Tyree Corbett with the flush
During the first six minutes of the second half, DU built a 12-point lead, capped by a free throw by Tyree Corbett and a jumper by Tommy Bruner. However, the Vandals scratched their way back into the game on cold Denver shooting. A jumper by the Vandals Rashad Smith shrunk Denver’s lead to six, 47-41 at 10:14. The Vandals continued to cut into the Denver lead, reducing it to two points on a layup by DiVant’e Moffitt with 4:50 remaining. A Tommy Bruner jumper gave Denver a four-point lead and some breathing room as DU used stingy defense to finish off the game over the final two minutes and traded free throws until the final score, 68-63.
DU played solid defense against a big Vandals team and displayed athleticism, power and size to win their fifth straight home opener. Despite the strange 5:00 pm weeknight start time, 1,255 fans showed up for the contest – an improvement from early season attendance figures from last season. Next up for DU is Colorado College on Thursday night.