DePaul Blue Demons vs. #5 Pitt Panthers – Saturday, January 22nd, 3 p.m. Central – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Television – WCUU in Chicago – The U Too
For viewers watching with an antenna, the over-the-air digital position will be WCIU-TV 26.5 and 26.6. The U Too will also be available on analog WCUU-CA, Channel 48. Cable subscribers will see The U Too on Comcast 248, RCN 35 and WOW 170.
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DePaul (6-12, 0-6) and coach Oliver Purnell are trying to find a way to stop a 19 game losing streak in the Big East. Playing fifth ranked Pittsburgh (18-1, 6-0) on Saturday afternoon is no way to cure that. Since joining the Big East, DePaul has lost six straight to Pitt.
The Panthers were the preseason pick to win the Big East and certainly appear to be living up to that standard.
After defeating third ranked Syracuse 74-66 on Monday, Pitt took over sole possession of first place in the Big East and are off to their best start ever in conference play. That's impressive considering some of the good teams that Pitt has had over the years.
In that Syracuse game, Pitt went on a 19-0 run to start the game and while the Orange fought back, the Panthers never relinquished the lead in the contest.
The Pitt seniors stepped up big for them in that game.
"We're coming off a great win over Syracuse here at the Pete. Our seniors are really playing well, Gary McGhee(7.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg), Brad Wanamaker (12.9 ppg) and Gilbert Brown (11.3 ppg) especially," said Pitt assistant head coach Pat Skerry. "In conference play, as coach (Jamie Dixon) has expressed to our guys, we're playing well but it's early. We're only a third of the way through the conference season so there are a lot of tough battles ahead, starting with this Saturday against DePaul on the road. There are never any easy nights on the road in this league."
On Thursday, Skerry was filling in for Dixon because he had caught a 24 hour flu bug. DePaul can only hope that flu gets spread around to the rest of the Pitt team.
When you talk about Pitt, you are talking about a tough, physical team that is dominant on the glass.
Pitt is leading the nation on the offensive boards, by corralling 45.8% of their missed shots.
"It's huge," Gilbert Brown said on Pitt's offensive rebounding ability. "The biggest part of our offense, aside from us shooting well, has to be our second-chance baskets. Whenever we can get easy buckets it helps us out tremendously because we don't have to run the offense or grind it out as much. Any easy baskets help."
The Panthers lead the Big East in rebounding margin at +13.7. Any guess who is last in the Big East in that category? Yes, DePaul with a negative 6.3.
Pitt is led in scoring by junior guard Ashton Gibbs at 16 ppg. Gibbs is shooting 44.9% from beyond the arc. Gibbs is closing in on the 1,000 point mark for his career and needs just 11 points against DePaul to reach that milestone.
"He's obviously been the latest in a long line of guys here at Pitt under Coach Dixon that have continuously got better," said Skerry. "He has great work ethic. He shoots early, he stays late, he comes back in, he takes care of his body, he's improved his athleticism. He's really a focused and drive guy. You can tell he's become a much better ball-handler, he can do things off the dribble and get in the lane and find guys. He's become much more than just a shooter."
DePaul hasn't fared well against ranked teams this season. Last week the Blue Demons lost 82-62 to then 10th ranked UConn. DePaul also dropped a 86-75 game at then ninth ranked Georgetown to start off the month.
Turnovers were a huge problem for DePaul in their last outing, a 94-64 loss at Marquette. MU scored 40 points off of 22 Blue Demon turnovers.
DePaul has one thing going in their favor. Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould predicted a Blue Demons victory over Pitt while on WSCR Sports Talk radio last night. We'll see if Gould is as good at handicapping basketball games as he is at kicking game winning field goals.
- Former Blue Demon great Terry Davis will be honored and inducted into the DePaul Athletics Hall of Fame at Halftime on Saturday.
The Last Time
On December 28, 2009 at the Peterson Events Center, the Panthers handed DePaul a 65-52 defeat.
Ashton Gibbs led all scorers with 23 points. Jermaine Dixon added 12 points on five of 13 shooting in the winning effort for the Panthers.
The Blue Demons were led by Will Walker and Mac Koshwal with 11 points apiece. Mario Stula chipped in with 10 points.
# NAME HT/WT POS YR HOMETOWN/LAST SCHOOL
5 Gilbert Brown 6-6/215 Forward RS SR Harrisburg, Pa./South Kent Prep (Conn.)
2 Isaiah Epps 6-2/175 Guard FR Plainfield, N.J./Hargrave Military Academy/Plainfield H.S.
12 Ashton Gibbs 6-2/190 Guard JR Scotch Plains, N.J./Seton Hall Prep
52 Gary McGhee 6-11/250 Center SR Anderson, Ind./Highland Senior H.S.
44 J.J. Moore 6-6/200 Forward FR Brentwood, N.Y./South Kent Prep/Brentwood H.S.
15 Aron Nwankwo 6-7/200 Forward FR Baltimore, Md./Baltimore City College H.S.
21 Lamar Patterson 6-5/220 Guard/Forward RS FR Lancaster, Pa./St. Benedict's (N.J.)/J.P. McCaskey H.S.
55 J.J. Richardson 6-7/235 Forward SO Missouri City, Texas/Fort Bend Hightower H.S.
14 Nick Rivers 6-0/180 Guard SR Phoenix, Ariz./Brophy College Prep
35 Nasir Robinson 6-5/220 Forward JR Chester, Pa./Chester H.S.
11 Dante Taylor 6-9/240 Forward SO Greenburgh, N.Y./National Christian Academy (Md.)
22 Brad Wanamaker 6-4/210 Guard SR Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic H.S.
1 Travon Woodall 5-11/190 Guard RS SO Brooklyn, N.Y.-Paterson, N.J./St. Anthony H.S. (N.J.)
3 Cameron Wright 6-4/200 Guard FR Cleveland, Ohio/Benedictine H.S.
42 Talib Zanna 6-9/225 Forward RS FR Kaduna, Nigeria/Bishop McNamara (Md.)
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