Denver Fades in Second Half, 83-66, Drops Opener

Denver Basketball (9-4, 0-1)  traveled to Omaha (5-8, 1-0) to start the Summit League conference regular season. The teams were tied at the half but the Mavericks thoroughly outplayed Denver on both ends of the floor the final 20 minutes. Omaha nailed 6 of 10 three’s in the half, outscored DU 46-29, outrebounded Denver by five and the Pioneers committed 9 turnovers in the second half. The reason for the loss? “A lack of toughness if I’m being honest,” stated a disappointed Jeff Wulbrun.

DU raced out to a 13-4 lead when UNO’s coach Chris Crutchfield called a timeout to regroup. A Justin Mullins dunk and layups by Tommy Bruner and Touko Tainamo led to the early lead. A pair of 3’s by Justin Mullin highlighted another DU run and gave Denver a 25-15 lead at 11:01. Shortly thereafter, Tevin Smith checked in for his first playing minutes after a six-game absence from injury. A Bruner lob to a racing Tyree Corbett and dunk stopped an Omaha run, 33-28, Denver. A Frankie Fiddler 3-point shot drew the Mavs even with Denver for the first time with 14 seconds remaining, 37-37. Following a DU timeout, a Ben Bowen shot missed the mark with time running out in the first half.

DU shot 55.2% for the half to Omaha’s 45.2%. Denver was 4-8 from downtown but was outrebounded by two. Denver only had one free throw in the half, an unusual statistic for a team that relies on interior penetration and scoring in the paint.

The teams traded buckets to open the second half, 43-43. A Justin Mullins three gave Denver a four-point lead, 48-44. UNO’s Luke Jungers back-to-back threes gave Omaha the lead, 52-50, with 11:36 remaining and the Mavs would never relinquish the lead. Omaha went on another run, 57-50, at 9:16 to cap their 11-0 run. Denver trailed by five, 59-54, with a timeout at 7:08. Denver chipped away at the lead and a Bruner jumper reeled the Mavs back within two, 61-59. Then, Omaha went on a run, capped by a JJ White bucket which pushed the Omaha advantage back to  7-points with 4:54 remaining. Junger’s hot hand continued to burn Denver with three-point makes down the stretch as the Mavs built a 12-point lead with 1:45 remaining. DU started to foul at that point and the game was, essentially, over – 83-66 final.

Mullins and Bruner led the Pioneers with 15 points each. The game once again proved that conference road wins will require a full 40 minutes of solid play. Wulbrun identified the major deficiencies after the game, “There are two things. The lack of valuing the basketball – we’re too damn careless. The second is toughness in one-on-one defending.” Tevin Smith returned from injury and saw limited action, 15 minutes, in one of the few bright spots on the night.

Next up Oregon State Wednesday at 8:00 pm MT before the Christmas break.

9 thoughts on “Denver Fades in Second Half, 83-66, Drops Opener”

  1. Wulbrun’s comments say it all. Not tough enough. Very frustrating league loss for Denver. Game was winnable with 6 minutes to go, and Omaha, picked for ninth in the Summit, took over the game and just routed the Pios at crunch time.

    This DU team must clean up the turnovers – 15 is not acceptable, game after game.

    Good to see Tevin back, even in limited minutes.

    Lots of work to do, and the coaches know it.

  2. Yup. A bummer. Bigs didn’t compete hard on the glass, and the perimeter defense was iffy. Offense wasn’t competing. They looked like they wanted it to be easy. Omaha made some big shots. They deserved the win. I’m sure Coach W. will address those things quickly. Still it’s going to be a process. I liked the fact that we had a real chance here and played poorly. If you only win when you play well, you’re not going to win very often. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer. Gotta keep the faith. And Swami, come on. Who cares about preseason polls. TCU football was picked 7th in the Big 12. Baylor was picked #1 and finished 6th Oklahoma was picked 2nd and finished almost last. Come on man! Get happy! We need you to be positive. Your insight is great at times. but then you throw those intentional little daggers.. Get on board with all your heart! We are all in this together. 🙂

    1. Just as players play different positions and take on different or multiple roles on to make an effective team, fans can also take on different roles to comprise a more effective fan base.

      For example: Some fans watch games on TV or online; some wear team gear; some cheer a lot at home games; some fans travel to see the team play; some fans donate to the team/school; some fans post only positive stuff online; other fans post more critical observations. Hopefully many fans do a combination of some or all of these activities! Each of these activities adds more value and more engagement, and the more activities a fan takes on, the more relevant the fan base becomes.

      Specifically, when people post critically (as I sometimes do), that doesn’t mean they aren’t fervent DU fans or they aren’t on fully board as fans. It may actually be the opposite – with critical fans being even more invested! Critical public opinions may actually help motivate players, coaches or administrators to perform at a higher level. Indeed, motivation comes from different places — with some motivated by cheers and some being more motivated by “proving others wrong.”

      Having critical fans, to me, is a by-product of an evolved fan base. Enthusiasm certainly goes a long way, but so does accountability. Fans are the ones who make the whole D-I enterprise go, and fan voices matter!

  3. Kenpom says they’re 260, bottom third. You are what your record says you are. Keep cheerleading and see how that ends up for ya!

  4. I’m glad the fan base is disappointed because our expectations for the program are higher this season. I am certain the players were not satisfied with the results from last nights opener and Wulbrun was not happy with the ‘compete level’. Any conference win for this team is going to take a complete 40 minute effort and execution. Surprisingly, that did not happen last night. Better to get an early wake-up call now and make the adjustments.

  5. Anon In March of 2021 we were bottom 2!! You’re grumpy as well. As that Minnesota football coach said years ago, it takes everyone to row the boat. Now Minnesota football flirts with Top 25 rankings. And I agree with SB. Disappointment is fine. I was disappointed yesterday. But last year we were 4.9 at this point in the year. Most of our key statistical measurements were lower than they are this year. Our team last year seemed to improve over the course of the year. I expect this team to improve as well. Wulbrun appears to be a real teacher of the game. Lots to be excited about. Let’s all get on board and row the boat. Final Note: OSU tomorrow is going to be a LOAD. 3 point loss to Duke. 1 point loss to USC who dusted 10th ranked Auburn this past weekend. Win over Washington. And Gill Coliseum is a tough place to play. All the guys and coaches are going to have to step up their games tomorrow.

  6. Tough game there. The score doesn’t fully reflect our performance, but the end got ugly. I hope this is a wake up call to the guys that league play isn’t going to be a cake walk. Hopefully we can bounce back with a non-conference win against Oregon State, and bring that momentum to the rest of league play.

  7. If this group is different than in years past, which I think most of us believe they are, then that one should hurt. I believe this one does hurt for this group because this was a winnable game and they let it get away.

    As others have said, any conference win takes a full 40 minute effort and that’s especially true when you’re playing on the road. There were a number of possessions in crucial minutes where DU wasn’t able to come up with a bucket or a stop and when you don’t come up with a much-needed stop or basket a few trips down the court, you’re going to be in trouble.

    Good to see Tevin back on the court and Tyree was more involved than in recent games, which was good to see.

    Let’s see how this group learns and grows from this one.

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