Providence (13-15) at DePaul (11-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allstate Arena (18,500) -- Rosemont, Illinois. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Providence 10-6, DePaul 6-8. Away Record: Providence 3-7, DePaul 3-7. Neutral Record: Providence 0-2, DePaul 2-1. Conference Record: Providence 2-13, DePaul 2-13. Series Record: Providence leads, 21-7.
GAME NOTES: The Big East Conference's two worst teams fight to climb out of the league cellar today, as the DePaul Blue Demons play host to the Providence Friars.
DePaul lost its seventh straight game on Monday at St. Johns, 79-72, as the Red Storm held off a determined effort with a 10-of-12 showing at the foul line in the closing minutes. The Blue Demons were a horrific 6-of-31 on three- point attempts and shot 40.3 percent overall with 18 turnovers. St. Johns' free-throw shooting proved to be the difference in the end but the hosts also shot 46.3 percent from the floor and scored 24 points off the Demons' giveaways. Cleveland Melvin led DePaul with 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Brandon Young netted 17. Jamee Crockett added 15 points in the loss, DePaul's 12th in 13 games overall.
Providence struggled early and never recovered in facing a formidable Georgetown team last weekend, eventually dropping the home contest by way of a 63-53 final. The Friars made good on just 4-of-28 field-goal attempts (.143) in the first half to trail 31-20 at the break, but managed to pull within four points in the second half before the Hoyas pulled away for good. Vincent Council paced Providence with 13 points but on just 4-of-14 shooting, while Bryce Cotton limped to a 3-of-17 shooting night to end with nine points. The Friars have now dropped five consecutive games and nine of 10 overall.
Providence holds a commanding 21-7 lead in the all-time series and has captured four of the last five meetings with DePaul. However, the Blue Demons' lone win in that period came in their last meeting -- a 79-76 decision last February at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
The Blue Demons normally don't have a problem keeping up a high-scoring tempo, it's the defense that lets them down on most nights. DePaul sits third in the Big East in averaging 74.0 points per game and shoots 44.1 percent from the floor. However, the Blue Demons have the league's worst defensive numbers in surrendering a whopping 76.8 ppg on a league-high 48.4 percent shooting. The sophomore Melvin paces the team in scoring with 17.7 ppg and rebounding with 7.1 per game. Young checks in at 14.9 ppg to provide a lethal one-two punch but the duo remain DePaul's only double-digit scorers. Jeremiah Kelly and Moses Morgan contribute 8.9 and 8.3 ppg, respectively, as the team's top two three-point threats. Kelly has dropped 49 triples on 36.8 percent shooting while Morgan has 44 threes and hits at a 37.0 percent rate from beyond. Crockett adds further scoring depth by matching Morgan at 8.3 ppg. Despite Melvin's prowess on the glass, DePaul's rebounding margin sits at a sour minus-6.8 (39.6-32.8) -- worst in the Big East.
The Friars are led by the junior Council, who tops the roster with 16.5 ppg and leads all of the Big East in assists with a startling 7.2 per contest -- fourth-most in the country. Cotton follows with a solid 14.3 ppg and leads the club with 66 three-pointers, third-most in the Big East, on 38.2 percent shooting. Gerard Coleman and LaDontae Henton are superior as third and fourth scoring options with matching 13.7 ppg averages. The duo are also instrumental in the Friars' rebounding game with Henton leading the way at 8.3 boards and Coleman chipping in 5.0 rpg. Providence averages a decent 69.4 ppg and shoots 43.8 percent from the floor but the defense gives up a similar number of points at 68.6 ppg, though on only 41.6 percent shooting. The Friars own a plus-1.2 margin on the glass overall (36.7-35.5).
Both teams will be fighting hard to avoid the moniker of Big East bottom- feeder, and certainly DePaul doesn't want to be crowned as such in front of its home crowd. However, Providence has the defensive and rebounding advantage that may provide the necessary edge in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 78, DePaul 74
02/25 10:37:03 ET