GAME NOTES: Two teams at the bottom of the Big East Conference standings do battle on Thursday night, as the Butler Bulldogs take to the road to meet the DePaul Blue Demons at Allstate Arena.
Butler sits in last place in Big East. Idle for more than a week, the Bulldogs have lost seven straight. most recently a 67-48 drubbing at the hands of No. 6 Villanova last Wednesday.
DePaul is ninth in Big East, just a spot about Butler. Losers of 11 of their last 12, the Blue Demons fell to St. John's this past Sunday in New York City, 72-64.
Butler and DePaul are meeting for the second time this season and for the eighth time overall. The Blue Demons won the first meeting in early January, 99-94 in double-overtime at Hinkle Fieldhouse to increase their series lead to 6-1. DePaul has claimed six straight wins in the series. Butler will be playing at DePaul for the first time in more than three decades, and the Bulldogs are seeking their first victory over the Blue Demons in three- quarters of a century.
Villanova limited Butler to its lowest scoring output of the season last time out, as Kellen Dunham had 12 points and Khyle Marshall scored 10 to lead the Bulldogs. Butler shot a season-low 30.6 percent from the field in the game, including just 26.1 percent in the first half.
Dunham leads the team in scoring with his 16.8 ppg, and Marshall is the only other double-digit scorer at 14.8 ppg. Woods is a beast on the glass with a league-best 9.0 rpg, but he adds only 7.9 ppg to the mix. As a team, the Bulldogs are putting up a conference-worst 68.8 ppg while getting scored upon at a 68.3 ppg clip, and they are allowing opponents to shoot 47.9 percent from the field, the worst yield in the league.
Brandon Young finished with 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting for DePaul in the recent loss to St. John's, while Billy Garrett chipped in 12 points. St. John's opened the game on a 16-4 run and led by a 33-21 margin at halftime. DePaul rallied in the second half when they shot 50 percent from the floor, including a 7-of-11 showing from 3-point range. The Blue Demons were within three points with under four minutes to play, but the Red Storm pulled away down the stretch.
Young (15.9 ppg, 3.7 apg) is the sole scoring weapon for the Blue Demons, particularly since leading scorer Cleveland Melvin (16.7 ppg) left the team at the end of January. Young has scored in double figures in every game since Melvin's departure and has shot at a 50 percent clip in four of the last six outings. Garrett (12.4 ppg) is the second option now, but he is only shooting 36.3 percent from the field. The Blue Demons are better than only Butler in offensive futility in the Big East, scoring a meager 70.7 ppg, and they are the worst defense squad, allowing a whopping 75.6 ppg.
As is to be expected with the bottom two teams in the conference, there is little positive to look for in this matchup. Although both have offensive issues, Butler is a bit better at the defensive end. Expect them to bounce back after a week off and to get a much-needed win.
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