DENVER, Colo. - It was an all-too familiar story for the University of Louisiana's basketball squad here Saturday night.

The Ragin' Cajuns had problems slowing down the inside-outside combination of Denver's Yemi Nicholson and Rodney Billups, and the result was a 79-72 Pioneer win in a battle of the co-leaders in the Sun Belt Conference's Western Division.

Nicholson finished with 28 points, hitting 10 of 12 shots and 8-of-10 free throws, and added 11 rebounds and five blocks for DU (13-7, 8-1). Billups finished with 12 points and 15 assists, many of those handouts helping Denver finish with a 53 percent shooting mark and a 7-of-17 showing from three-point range.

"I was really disappointed in our defensive effort on them," said Cajun head coach Robert Lee, whose team had a seven-game overall and Sun Belt win streak snapped. "We didn't go on the double against Nicholson in the second half, and in the first half we didn't control Billups. They're good players, but we made them look better than they are."

The Cajuns (13-8, 7-2), now one game behind DU in the West Division race, struggled in the closing minutes of each half in falling for the second time to the Pioneers this season. UL led 29-27 with six minutes left in the first half but turned the ball over seven times the rest of the half in falling behind 40-35.

Then, two straight Tiras Wade jumpers gave the visitors a 63-62 lead with 8:49 left, but DU's Erik Benzel hit an open three-pointer 16 seconds later and the Cajuns never led again.

UL committed 21 turnovers - the most for the Cajuns in 12 games - to offset a big 38-26 rebound advantage. The Cajuns had 20 offensive rebounds.

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