GAME NOTES: The DePaul Blue Demons will once again try to stop a lengthy losing streak, as they take on the Seton Hall Pirates in a Big East Conference conflict at Allstate Arena.
DePaul has had a brutal season, with a record of just 2-13 in league play and an overall mark of 10-18. They nearly ended the losing streak last time out, but a 96-94 setback in overtime to Marquette pushed the streak to 10 games. They will visit St. John's in their final road game of the season next.
As for Seton Hall, it also lost a close bout in its most recent contest, falling in a 72-71 final to Creighton. The Pirates have lost four of their last five games and are now floating just above .500 overall (14-13), and they just 5-9 in conference action. They will host Providence next.
Seton Hall won the first meeting between these two teams this season, claiming an 86-69 victory on Jan. 25. The Pirates have won 10 of the 13 all-time matchups with the Blue Demons.
Fuquan Edwin scored 21 points and Eugene Teague (14 points, 11 rebounds) posted a double-double, but the Pirates just couldn't get over the hump against Creighton. Teague's efforts helped the Pirates to a 34-20 advantage on the boards, but they let the Bluejays shoot 51.2 percent from the field.
Edwin (14.1 ppg) is one of four players on the roster averaging in double figures. He has really picked up his play of late, with three straight games of at least 20 points. Sterling Gibbs (14.6 ppg, 4.4 apg) is still technically the leading scorer, but he missed the Creighton game on a coach's decision. His status remains uncertain for this contest. Brian Oliver (11.5 ppg) and Teague (10.4 ppg, 8 rpg) can also be relied upon for a few buckets per game, but Oliver finished with only three points on 1-of-6 shooting against Creighton. All told, the Pirates are the third-best scoring team in the Big East (74 ppg), although that hasn't led to much success in terms of wins and losses.
DePaul's shooting from beyond the arc allowed it to hang around with Marquette, as the Blue Demons sank 14 3-pointers, compared to four for the Golden Eagles. However, they were outscored, 48-26, in the paint and 19-13 off of turnovers, deficits that eventually caught up to them.
The Blue Demons were already a team that struggled to score, ranking eighth in the Big East in scoring (71.2 ppg) and ninth in field goal percentage (.425). Finding offense has become even more of a challenge recently, as leading scorer Cleveland Melvin (16.7 ppg) abruptly left the team earlier in the month. Brandon Young (15.3 ppg) remains to carry the bulk of the offensive load, as he did against Marquette when he poured in a game-high 29 points. Billy Garrett (12.3 ppg) is the next-best scoring option on the roster and he came up big against Marquette, sinking five 3-pointers to finish with a career-high 26 points.
Without Melvin, the Blue Demons are a much less dangerous team. That is bad news considering they weren't exactly firing on all cylinders with him on the court. Seton Hall may not be one the elite teams in the conference, but if Edwin keeps up his recent rate of play, it can top DePaul.
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