DePaul (11-17) at West Virginia (17-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 28th, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: WVU Coliseum (14,000) -- Morgantown, West Virginia. Television: Big East Network. Home Record: DePaul 6-9, WVU 10-5. Away Record: DePaul 3-7, WVU 3-6. Neutral Record: DePaul 2-1, WVU 4-1. Conference Record: DePaul 2-14, WVU 7-9. Series Record: West Virginia leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: Winless during the month of February, the DePaul Blue Demons get one more shot at it tonight as they challenge the West Virginia Mountaineers in Big East Conference play in Morgantown.
Needless to say, riding an eight-game slide means DePaul has been lacking against the rest of the Big East this season and that has the team sitting all alone in last place in the conference standings at just 2-14. In fact, since the beginning of the 2012 calendar year, the Blue Demons have won just twice (Pittsburgh and Rutgers). The team was handed yet another setback over the weekend, although this time it bowed by just two points versus Providence (73-71) at home.
Close games have a familiar ring to them for the Mountaineers as well, the team suffering a 61-60 setback to nationally-ranked Marquette on Friday night even after the Golden Eagles sat several star players for the first half and the hosts held a double-digit advantage after 20 minutes of action. West Virginia has now dropped two in a row and four of the last five outings, each of those defeats coming against nationally-ranked league foes.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Mountaineers have won all but one of the previous seven meetings with the Blue Demons. The very first meeting was a 76-52 triumph by DePaul during the 1945 NIT in New York City and since then WVU has dominated, although one of the meetings last year was just a two-point win on the road, 67-65, for the Mountaineers.
The Blue Demons shot just 37.8 percent from the field in the first half and missed all three of their free-throw attempts, yet somehow the squad still led by two points at the break against Providence. Unfortunately, DePaul could not hold off the Friars in the second half, even as the hosts made good on 52.2 percent from the floor. Moses Morgan came off the bench to score a team-best 13 points for the home team, while Jamee Crockett and Brandon Young both dropped in 11 points and Cleveland Melvin 10 points to go with a team-best 12 rebounds. Although eh shot just 1-of-5 from the field and finished with four points, Donnavan Kirk made quite an impression with 11 rebounds and an astounding eight blocked shots. Kirk (3.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg) has been used sparingly this season yet his blocks total (26) is second only to Melvin (31) who has been on the floor more than twice as long over the course of 28 games. Playing more than 32 minutes per outing, Melvin paces the program with 17.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg, but for someone who handles the ball as much as he does, even by accident he should have more than 20 assists.
Seeing as how Marquette sat several players for reasons that were not immediately known, WVU's Kevin Jones should have had a field day at least in the first half, yet he finished with just 12 points and six rebounds, missing all five of his three-point tries instead of working in the paint where he is far more effective. Darryl Bryant, a model of inconsistency in recent weeks, came up with 25 points as he converted 5-of-11 on the perimeter, but the rest of the team came up empty on nine other attempts. Jones continues to lead the team both in scoring (20.0 ppg) and rebounding (11.0 rpg), but his insistence on moving out to the perimeter on offense where he is shooting an awful 27.3 percent (30-of-110) is becoming more and more frustrating. In the four games prior to Friday, Bryant combined to shoot just 10-of-45 from the floor so you can never be sure what you're going to get out of him. Deniz Kilicli (11.3 ppg) had five straight outings with double-digit scoring, but in the last two he has tallied just eight points each time out.
Coming into this week WVU was tied with UConn for ninth place in the conference standings at 7-9, and it is still quite possible for the Mountaineers to finish in the bottom half of the Big East if they don't get their act together starting right now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 69, DePaul 62
02/28 10:48:26 ET