Shooting 67 percent from the field for Denver, the fourth-best, single-game performance in DU history and the best since hitting 76.2 percent on Feb. 12, 1988, was just enough to get by the SDSU men’s basketball team 83-80.
The loss in Frost Arena was the Jacks’ fourth straight after winning the first two games of the season.
The Princeton offense that the Pioneers (4-1) ran emphasizes constant motion, passing, back-door cuts and disciplined teamwork, which Denver ran to near perfection. They only missed six shots the entire second half, while hitting on 12 of their 14 layups.
“It’s so hard to guard that stuff,” said junior forward Anthony Cordova, who had a game-high 16 points in 21 minutes. “We have been focused on it the past couple of days. They cut us up like that last year. We would contain it for a while, and they would find a way to get it going.”
The Jacks (2-4) held a 36-35 lead at halftime and had their largest lead of the game, 68-62, with 8:30 left before being outscored 21-12 to close out the game. SDSU only scored six points in the span of about eight minutes in which Denver went on a 19-6 run on 9-of-11 shooting.
“I think that as a coaching staff, we have to do a better job of recognizing when we are not getting a stop and do something different,” said head coach Scott Nagy. “You can’t keep beating your head against the wall, which is what we did, and we shouldn’t have done that.”
This marked the sixth consecutive year that these two teams have played each other, with each school winning three. What might have not been expected is the amount of points scored. In the previous six meetings, neither team had scored more than 70 points in regulation.
“What our guys did was show a lot of resolve on the road to hang in there and never let the game get away from us,” Denver head coach Joe Scott said. “We played about as perfect of an offensive game as we could. Now, we just need to make sure we get better defensively.”
It was the highest scoring output for the Pioneers since Jan. 18, 2007, and the most points on the road since Jan. 20, 2005.
“We have to get a level of commitment out of our players for that to be the number-one thing,” Nagy said about defense.
“They have to be a great defender and demand that from themselves. That’s the only way to correct it,” Nagy said.
SDSU had a chance to push the game into overtime, as the Jacks were down three with 11 seconds left, but they misfired on two 3-pointers in the last three seconds.
“Late in the game, we did a good job executing and ran plays when we needed to,” said Nagy. “We even got a shot late, but defensively, we are not very good right now, and we haven’t been in the last three games.”
The Jacks will open the conference season Dec. 3 at IUPUI and at Western Illinois on Dec. 5.
SDSU looks to win their first Summit League road game. They are 0-18 all-time, as this is their third year in the league.