DU Knocks Off Rust, Downs Idaho 68-63 in Season Opener

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.

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.

11 thoughts on “DU Knocks Off Rust, Downs Idaho 68-63 in Season Opener”

  1. Dunker saw game on PIOVISION. Great watch. Finally we halve a true basketball program. Lots for coaches to work on. We’ll get better game by game with an occasional blip. I see one flaw in the roster, but for today let’s just enjoy the win. I’ll leave it to Puck to point out the flaw. 🤔😂🤓

  2. My big concern is 3-point shooting. With Porter out, I don’t really see a big-time 3-ball shooter yet.

    1. I do agree we have minimal outside shooting (and like 5B said, hopefully Ben and Marco will fill that in a bit), but I think we’re going to be a very “in the paint” focused offense. We had 33 (!) free throws (side note – only gave up 11 free throws to Idaho). I think the offense can still thrive w/o someone like Coban. That’s not to say we wouldn’t be a better team with him and his 3’s, but I’m excited to see how our offensive identity develops and it seems to be down low.

      Great win!

  3. Ken- You are right. The loss of Coban is huge – one of the best pure shooters around. I’m hoping Ben Bowen and Marco Lukic may be able to provide some outside shooting. Also, Pedro Lopez-SanVicente was out with a minor injury. He is one of their best wing shooters from distance on the team. No doubt, an area for improvement.

  4. I am always happy with a win. Bruner is a legit point guard, Kisunas is a legit center, and Tevin Smith is so versatile, do-it all-type of player. I expect Tyree and Lukic to score more this year, and Mullins is going be a good player, too. There is some depth on this team, even without Coban Porter. There is a lot to like so far – this team plays good defense and rebounds well…

    Lots of things to work on, too — the 14 turnovers and the poor foul shooting we saw from DU vs Idaho will get you beat against a better opponent. I’m sure the DU coaches will be working to fix both!

  5. We are going to have to simply accept the fact that we won’t be shooting many 3’s. The concern are the Free Throws. If we can be solid there, we will be okay. Every game will be a slug fest. But if we can shoot the freebies we will be fine.

  6. Always great to get the season started with a win and especially against a team that felt a lot like a Summit League opponent. I’m confident the free throw shooting will improve but despite the poor shooting DU made more free throws than Idaho attempted – which is always a great sign.

    There was more energy in Hamilton than I can remember in recent years and DU delivered. Excited to see this team continue to develop and grow.

  7. Optimistic this year will yield more improvement! Would be nice to get off to a good start to build some early confidence

Leave a Reply