In a season of ups and down, DU men’s hoops (15-16, 6-12) finished their regular season in style on Senior Night (afternoon) against the Omaha Mavericks (8-22, 4-14). DU raced out to a first-half lead, 32-18, on hot shooting while the Mavs were ice cold. Despite 19 turnovers for the game, Denver rarely allowed Omaha to cut the lead below double digits. With the win, Denver improved four games over their 2022 campaign heading into the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While it would be easy to wish for more wins this season, progress continues as DU men’s basketball had their best record since 2017-2018.
Denver got off to a great first half behind 9 points and three rebounds from Tevin Smith who led Denver to a 32-18 lead in the first 20 minutes. DU shot 48% from the field and held the Mavs to a miserly 21% shooting- a similar start to the Western Illinois game the prior weekend. Denver also benefitted by collecting 15 defensive rebounds in the half.
Tommy Bruner was a steady hand for Denver over the final 20 minutes, finishing with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals on the night. A desperate Mavs team started to press and did get DU unsettled but Bruner and Tevin Smith took control. Five minutes into the half, a Touko Tainamo layup put Denver up by 11 points, 40-29. The Mavs made another run over the next five minutes but a layup by Lukas Kisunas made it 52-41 with 9:47 remaining. Denver kept up their hot shooting pace and ferocious rebounding and a Tommy Bruner bucket with five minutes remaining all but sealed the game, 61-46. It was the Tevin Smith and Tommy Bruner show down the stretch, running the clock, shooting free throws and hitting shots to close out the game, 72-61.
— Denver Men's Basketball (@DU_MensHoops) February 25, 2023
This was a solid all-around effort and a fine way to conclude the season. Denver shot 51% for the game while the Mavs finished at 29.8%. Denver had 41 rebounds to Omaha’s 28. The only blemish on the stat line was 19 Pioneer turnovers to 13 for the Mavs. Touko Tainamo finished with a double-double, 11 points and 11 rebounds. Tevin Smith led DU with 18 points and 7 rebounds on the afternoon.
The on-court highlight for the season was a crisp 8-1 start. The on-court low lights were 3 and 4 game-losing skids in conference play and, of course, injuries. Despite all the hurdles, the team always seemed to rebound and put together a strong effort.
Next up is the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls on March 3rd-7th,