GAME NOTES: The Denver Pioneers open up their home schedule this afternoon as they entertain the Stanford Cardinal at Magness Arena.
Taking on their second straight Pac-12 opponent, the Pioneers battled California on the road in the season opener earlier in the week and were turned back in a lopsided 77-50 final.
Since returning to the Division I level in 1999-00, the Pioneers have produced a mark of 10-5 in home openers, and are 79-30 all-time in such contests.
As for the Cardinal, they are out on the road for the first time in 2013-14 and are seeking a second straight victory and the third in four games overall. After dropping a wild 112-103 final versus BYU on Monday, Stanford turned around and grabbed a 71-58 triumph over Northwestern three nights later.
Stanford has won eight of the previous 10 matchups with the Pioneers, but in Denver the hosts have taken two of five encounters.
Except for Dwight Powell who finished with nine points, every starter for the Cardinal scored in double figures in the win against Northwestern on Thursday night, beginning with Josh Huestis who dropped in 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Chasson Randle tacked on 14 points, Anthony Brown 12 and Stefan Nastic 11 points as the team shot not only 51.1 percent from the field but also outscored the visitors at the free-throw line by an 18-6 margin.
Through three games Randle is the top scorer for the program with his 21.7 ppg, hitting on 52.4 percent from the field, followed by Powell who has not only 18.0 ppg, thanks to 56.8 percent accuracy, but also 7.3 rpg and a team- best 12 assists and six steals, proving that he can do whatever it takes to get Stanford into the win column.
Against the Golden Bears in Berkeley in the opener, Denver got off to a very rough start with a total of just five field goals in 24 chances during the first 20 minutes of action. The team sank only 2-of-13 behind the 3-point line in the period, but bounced back in the second half with 6-of-11 shooting on the perimeter, but by then it was too little, too late. Cam Griffin led the team in scoring with 15 points, while Marcus Byrd accounted for 10 and Chris Udofia eight points and five blocked shots.
Last season the Pioneers, then members of the Western Athletic Conference, produced an overall record of 22-10 and were an astounding 16-2 in league action, not to mention 14-2 in their own building thanks to the efforts of Udofia who was the top scorer with 13.3 ppg and one of the leading passers with 105 assists. As well-rounded as they come, Udofia also posted 4.5 rpg and was tops with 75 blocked shots.
After a lackluster performance in their opener, the Pioneers have already shown that they are not nearly the same team they were a season ago. Even though Denver is playing in front of the home crowd the odds are still against them today.
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