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Friday, March 06, 2009

Game #31: No. 7 Denver (15-15, 9-9 SBC) vs. No. 2 ULAR (22-7, 15-3 SBC)

Sunday, March 8, 2009 • 5:30 p.m. MT

Summit Arena (6,000) • Hot Springs, Ark.

TV: None • Radio: AM 560 • Web: (audio only), (video)

About Denver: The Pioneers are the No. 7 seed after finishing the regular season winning four of their last five regular season games, and DU beat ULM 66-57 on Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals. Denver is led by Nate Rohnert’s 15.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Rob Lewis holds the team lead with 5.5 rebounds per game and a 53.6 field goal percentage, while his 12.4 points are second on the team. Brian Stafford also is averaging double figures at 11.8 points per game and is shooting 48.3 percent from the field, while Andrew Hooper leads DU and the SBC by shooting 47.7 percent from beyond the arch.

About Arkansas-Little Rock: The Trojans earned the No. 2 seed by winning the SBC West Division with a 15-3 mark in the SBC and 22-7 overall, giving them a first round bye. UALR won eight of its last nine games and 13 of its last 15. Shane Edwards was named First Team All-SBC, and John Fowler earned the SBC Defensive Player of the Year award. After the departure of leading scorer Steven Moore, UALR has three players averaging double digits: Edwards (11.7 ppg), Fowler (10.7 ppg) and Matt Mouzy (10.2). Fowler leads the squad with 5.5 rebounds per game.

The Match-up: The Trojans hold a 9-6 edge in the all-time series, including a 66-57 win in Little Rock on Feb. 7. UALR is 7-0 against DU in Arkansas.

Getting Defensive: Denver and UALR are ranked first and second in SBC scoring defense and three-point field goal percentage defense, respectively. DU has held opponents to 60.5 points per game and 31.8 percent from beyond the arc, while UALR has held opponents to 64.0 points per game and 32.0 percent from three-point range.

DU in the SBC Tournament: The Pioneers are 6-8 in the SBC Tournament since joining the conference during the 1999-00 season. Denver lost in the first round the past two years: at Louisiana-Monroe in 2007 and at New Orleans in 2008. This is the first time the Pioneers have advanced to the quarterfinals since 2006. If DU beats UALR, the Pioneers would advance to the semifinals on Monday against the winner of No. 3 seeded Troy and No. 6 seeded South Alabama.

Fountain of Youth: The average age of the Pioneers is 18.9 years old, making DU the youngest team in the country. Denver has no seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and eight freshmen on its roster.

Neutral Zone: The Pioneers have won all three neutral site games outside of Denver since Joe Scott took over as head coach in 2007-08: East Central (11/8/07), Morgan State (12/29/07) and Texas-Arlington (12/5/08), which made last year’s NCAA Tournament.

All-SBC: Nate Rohnert was named to the 2008-09 All-Sun Belt Conference First Team, making him just the third DU player to receive the honor and the first since Yemi Nicholson won in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Rohnert also was named to the All-District 24 second team. Rohnert is the only Sun Belt player ranked among the top 15 in the conference in points (eighth with 15.4 per game), rebounds (13th with 5.4 per game) and assists (third with 4.60 per game). Rohnert also ranks first in minutes (37.00 per game), fifth in steals (1.33 per game), 10th in field goal percentage (50.2 percent) and 11th in assists/turnover ratio (1.37). Rohnert also ranks 66th in the nation in assists per game and 94th in field goal percentage.

Captain Rohnert: Junior Nate Rohnert tied his career-high with 28 points against ULM on Wednesday in the First Round of the SBC Tournament. Five of Rohnert’s six rebounds and 18 of his points came in the second half.

Percentage Game: Denver is 15th in the nation as a team shooting 48.0 percent from the field, trailing leader UCLA (50.1 percent). Rob Lewis, Nate Rohnert, Andrew Hooper and Brian Stafford are ranked eighth, 10th, 11th and 15th, respectively, in field goal percentage among Sun Belt Conference players. As of the NCAA’s last rankings on March 1, the Pioneers also were 30th in the NCAA in scoring defense (60.6 points against per game), 38th in three-point field goals per game (7.9 per game), 42nd in three-point field goal percentage (37.9 percent), 44th in free throw percentage (73.1 percent) and 58th in three-point field goal defense (32.1 percent).

Making a Point: Freshman Brian Stafford scored 29 points and nailed seven three-pointers at ULM on Feb. 26, the most in a game by a DU player since DaShawn Walker scored 30 points and hit eight three-pointers on Nov. 29, 2006. Stafford also went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the game, all in the final minute. In February, Stafford averaged 15.4 points, while shooting 53.1 percent (34-of-64) from the field and 54.8 percent (23-of-42) from three-point range. Stafford is second in Sun Belt games from three-point range at 47.8 percent, eighth in playing time at 34.28 minutes per game, 10th from the field at 51.3 percent, tied for 15th with 13.7 points per game and 15th from the free throw line at 77.2 percent.

Three’s Company: Denver has made 237 three-pointers, the second highest season total in DU history, behind only the 2002-03 squad that hit 249. This season DU has made 37.9 percent of its three-point attempts, led by Andrew Hooper’s SBC-leading 47.7 percent and Brian Stafford’s 43.7 percent (4th in the SBC).

Charity Work: The Pioneers are second in Sun Belt Conference free throw shooting at 73.2 percent (342-of-467) and rank 44th in the nation. That percentage would rank the seventh best season mark in DU history. Denver hit 49-of-60 free throws (81.7 percent) in its last four games. DU ranked eighth in the nation and first in the SBC in 2007-08 by making 76.3 percent from the line, which also set DU’s single-season record, bettering the team’s previous mark of 75.9 percent, which was set in 1973-74. Rob Lewis leads DU, shooting 79.3 percent from the line (92-of-116), the ninth best mark in the SBC.

Rocky Mountain Way: Nine of Denver’s 13 players hail from the state of Colorado: Sabatino Chen (Louisville), Tom Chott (Littleton), Justin Coughlin (Yuma), Andrew Hooper (Lakewood), Kyle Lewis (Denver), Rob Lewis (Colorado Springs), Ryan Perry (Aurora), Nate Rohnert (Parker) and Michael Vandahl (Steamboat Springs).

Coach Scott Signs Three Recruits: High school seniors Blake Foeman, Chase Hallam and Jefferson Powers all signed National Letters of Intent on Nov. 12 to play for the University of Denver men’s basketball team beginning next season. Foeman is a 6-foot-7 forward from Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla. As a junior last year, Foeman averaged 11 points and nine rebounds. Hallam is a 6-foot-4 guard from Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, and the brother of current DU freshman Travis Hallam. Hallam helped lead the Skeeters to a 57-12 record over the past two seasons. Powers is a 6-foot-8 forward from De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif. Powers averaged 10.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, while leading the Spartans to a 28-4 record as a junior

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