GAME NOTES: The DePaul Blue Demons go in search of their third straight win, as they entertain the Huskies of Houston Baptist in non-conference action on Wednesday night.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting the two schools on the hardwood.
Houston Baptist enters the fray having lost seven of its first 10 games, including each of the last two. The current slide comes on the heels of a modest two-game win streak. The Huskies' most recent outing resulted in an 80-70 setback to UT-Arlington, that coming a week after they were dismantled by the Michigan Wolverines in a 107-53 final. This is first of four straight HBU will play on the road, where it is just 1-4 this season.
DePaul's modest two-game win streak has improved to the team to 6-4 overall, and while victories over the likes of Florida Atlantic (81-70) and Chicago State (77-70 OT) aren't overly impressive, a 93-point outburst in a win against Oregon State on Dec. 1 was. This game brings the curtain down on the Blue Demons' season-long, five-game homestand, as they head out on the road for their next four, the third of which is their Big East Conference opener at Georgetown on New Year's Eve.
With a record sitting well below .500, it's not surprising to see that the Huskies have struggled at both ends of the court. They enter this contest averaging just 64.7 ppg, shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point range. They are nearly dead even in rebounding margin, but they have been especially careless with the basketball, turning it over an average of 16.4 times per tilt. Defensively, the club is yielding 77.7 ppg, with foes making good on 43.7 percent of their total shots, which includes a 36.1 percent showing from beyond the arc. Houston Baptist has only two double-digit scorers at the moment, but neither Rob Lewis (12.8 ppg) or Tyler Russell (12.2 ppg) are going to cause opposing teams many matchup problems. Russell drained 4-of-6 3-point tries on his way to 22 points, but that effort went for naught as the Huskies dropped a 10-point decision to UTA. Cody Joyce hit for 12 points, while Caleb Crayton and Rob Lewis tacked on 11 apiece. HBU went just 6-of-22 from downtown, and committed 19 turnovers.
DePaul is putting up nearly the same amount of points as it allows (76.3 ppg to 74.2 ppg), and the team has been somewhat efficient in hitting 45.6 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 37.0 percent showing from beyond the arc. Its foes are converting 47.3 percent of their total shots. The Blue Demons boast four double-digit scorers, with Cleveland Melvin leading the way with his 16.6 ppg. Melvin is also the club's top rebounder with 6.7 rpg, and he has 11 blocks to his credit as well. Brandon Young (15.6 ppg, 4.7 apg) is both an effective scorer and passer, and he is a 53.2 percent shooter to boot. Freshman Billy Garrett pretty much sealed the deal for DePaul in the overtime win over Chicago State, netting eight of the team's first 10 points in the extra session, finishing with 17 points for the game. Melvin logged a double- double consisting of 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Young pitched in with 14 points and five assists. DePaul went from shooting 57.1 percent in the first half, to 26.9 percent after the break, allowing the Cougars to hang around. Chicago State was held to just 38.6 percent field goal efficiency, and both teams were rather reckless with the ball, combining for 42 turnovers, 23 of which were credited to the Blue Demons.
Expect the home team to put forth a solid effort as it takes some of the bite out of the Huskies, who would like nothing more than to get this road trip off on the right foot. In the end, Melvin and company will prove too difficult to handle, sending HBU to its third straight loss and eighth on the season.
Game Date and Time