No. 19 Louisville visits DePaul in Big East action
Rosemont, IL (Sports Network) - The 19th-ranked Louisville Cardinals bring their high-flying act to Allstate Arena for today's Big East Conference clash with the DePaul Blue Demons.
Louisville is an impressive 20-6 on the season, but the team's 8-5 record in conference play has it tied for fourth place in the standings heading into the weekend. The Cardinals dropped a 52-51 at home to first-place Syracuse on Monday night, snapping what has been a six-game win streak for coach Rick Pitino's club. UofL is playing the first of two in a row on the road today, and the team is 5-3 in true road games this season, and in fact, three of its final five games of the regular season will take place away from the KFC Yum! Center.
DePaul currently sits three games under .500 at 11-14, and the team has certainly taken its lumps since the start of the Big East play, going a dismal 2-11 against conference foes. The Blue Demons are presently mired in a five- game losing streak, with their most recent setback coming in an 80-54 blowout at Connecticut on Wednesday night. DePaul is just 1-10 in its last 11 games, and the team is a disappointing 6-7 at home this season, which includes setbacks in its last four bouts at Allstate Arena.
Louisville owns a 15-game lead in the all-time series with DePaul (36-21), and the Cardinals are 21-2 against the Blue Demons since the two teams have been in the same conference (1995-2005 in Conference USA, 2006-present in the Big East). UofL has won the last eight encounters overall.
Chane Behanan scored 16 points, Chris Smith chipped in 10 and Gorgui Dieng came close to logging a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds, but those efforts went for naught as Louisville fell by a single point at home to Syracuse earlier in the week. Neither team shot the ball well, with the Orange hitting a mere 34.4 percent of their total shots, which included an absolutely atrocious 1-of-15 showing from three-point range, and the Cardinals connecting on only 34.7 percent of their total shots, with 5-of-19 three-point tries finding the bottom of the net. Louisville committed twice as many turnovers as did its guests (16-8), and SU outscored the hosts 38-24 in the paint, and 26-5 in bench points. Kyle Kuric (12.8 ppg) leads four players averaging double digits in the scoring column this season, the Cardinals netting 71.0 ppg. The team's defensive effort has been top-notch, as foes are hitting just 37.1 percent of their field goal attempts and committing nearly 16 turnovers per outing, all while putting up only 61.9 ppg.
DePaul was beaten in nearly every way imaginable this week at UConn, as the Blue Demons fell by 26 points to the defending national champs. Jeremiah Kelly drained 4-of-8 three-point attempts in scoring a team-high 16 points for the visitors, but an overall shooting effort of only 38.6 percent, a 4-of-9 showing at the free-throw line and a 50-27 rebounding deficit were simply too much to overcome. Cleveland Melvin was the only other Blue Demon to finish in double digits, as he tallied 11 points despite missing nine of his 14 field goal tries. Melvin (17.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Brandon Young (14.4 ppg, 4.8 apg) have been the team's most consistent performers this season, and while DePaul nets an average of 73.8 ppg (third-best in the Big East), its effort at the defensive end (league-worst 76.2 ppg) has been the primary culprit for its sub par record to this point. The Blue Demons are +2.9 in turnover margin, but they are routinely throttled on the glass, checking in with a conference-worst -7.2 rebounding differential.
02/18 11:17:36 ET