GAME NOTES: A pair of Big East Conference programs will try to bounce back from losses in their respective league openers, as the DePaul Blue Demons visit the Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Demons suffered a 61-54 loss to Georgetown on Tuesday, marking their second setback in the last three games. DePaul had previously won three straight and is still clinging to an 8-6 overall record. However, the Blue Demons have split their four games away from home. They will host Creighton next.
It was that same Creighton squad that topped Marquette, 67-49, in the Golden Eagles' Big East opener on Tuesday. Marquette is also 8-6 overall after falling to the Bluejays. The bulk of the team's success has come at home, where the Golden Eagles are 6-1. A trip to Xavier is next on the schedule.
A year ago, Marquette swept the season series with DePaul. The Golden Eagles have won four straight against the Blue Demons, and own a 68-44 all-time series advantage.
DePaul only shot 32.7 percent from the floor and missed as many free throws as it made (13-of-26) against Georgetown. The Blue Demons also turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 20 points for the Hoyas.
In comparison to the rest of the Big East, DePaul is one of the weaker teams in the league, ranking next-to-last in the league in scoring (72.6 ppg), assists (12.1 apg) and field goal percentage (.434). Cleveland Melvin (15.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Brandon Young (14.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4 apg) present a solid inside-outside combination to carry the offense. Melvin tops the squad in rebounds as well, but he struggled against Georgetown with only six points on 2-of-12 shooting to go with three boards. Young also had a tough game, netting 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Garrett (11.1 ppg) is the third and final member of club's double-digit scorers, although he connects on just 35.8 percent of his total shots.
Marquette also struggled to find its rhythm against Creighton, connecting on only 35.8 percent of its shots field goal attempts, while Jamil Wilson (10 points) and Chris Otule (10) were the leading scorers. The Golden Eagles were also outscored, 20-8, off turnovers.
The only team scoring less than DePaul among Big East squads is its competition in this contest, as Marquette is netting only 71.2 ppg. However, the Golden Eagles are a far superior defensive unit, ranking among the 30 best teams in the country in both points allowed (61.9 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (.386). Davante Gardner (12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is the leading scorer despite doing all of his work off the bench. Wilson (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the only other member of the team averaging double figures. Todd Mayo (9.0 ppg) stands in as a decent third option and like Gardner, produces as a reserve.
Playing on the road, against a team that has proven to be an effective defensive force, DePaul isn't likely to get its first league win on Saturday. Expect Marquette to shut down Melvin and Young, and collect a win as a result.
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