The Denver Pioneers made a rare appearance on national TV (ESPN2) Saturday afternoon, and made the most of the opportunity by knocking off the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 75-60. After taking down the best team in the Sun Belt Conference, the Pioneers (17-7, 7-4) need to refocus and protect against a letdown versus the Florida Atlantic Owls (9-14, 5-5) on Thursday night. While Denver is an impressive 11-2 at home this season, they are a just 6-5 away from Magness Arena, so this one certainly will not be easy.
The Pioneers are led by senior guard Brian Stafford (14.0 points per game and a .471 three-point field goal percentage) and sophomore forward Chris Udofia (14.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game). Udofia was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week after posting a career-high 27 points with nine rebounds and four blocks in the win over Middle Tennessee. He has now scored in double digits in four straight games, while Stafford has now been held under 10 points for two consecutive contests after putting together a streak of double-digit scoring in seven-straight games prior to that.
Meanwhile, the Owls count on junior guard Greg Gantt for their scoring punch. Gantt leads the team in points per game (14.6) and has recorded 10 points or more in five of his last six games. No other player on the team averages more than nine points per contest.
The Pioneers have been doing quite a bit of their work on the road since the calendar flipped to 2012, and DenverPioneers.com puts the trend into perspective:
Frequent Flyers: In the first 46 days of 2012, Denver will have played just three home games, while traveling to nine on the road. During that stretch, the Pioneers will have traveled 12,032 miles by plane and bus.
Here is some information to help you find the contest on Thursday:
Game date, time: 5:00 PM MT, Thursday, February 9, 2012
Location: FAU Arena, Boca Raton, FL
Radio: AM 1510 and FM 93.7
Spread: Denver is currently favored by 1 point on one site, and the game is a push bet on another. The over/under is currently set at 121 points.
For more info on the 2011-2012 college basketball season, head over to the SB Nation College Basketball news hub. And be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Denver for Pioneers updates, previews and recaps.