DePaul vs. Minnesota Game Preview

The Blue Demons look to extend their unbeaten streak with a Thanksgiving Day battle against Minnesota, their first high-major opponent on the non-conference schedule. DePaul and Minnesota will square off in the opener of the Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers – Thursday, November 24th, 1:00 p.m. Central – HP Field House, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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Game Preview

In the film Caddyshack, groundskeeper Carl Spackler said that in order to defeat a gopher you must "fall back on superior firepower and superior intelligence."

Spackler could have just as easily been writing the game plan for DePaul (2-0) against Minnesota (4-0). For the Blue Demons to beat the Golden Gophers, they will require superior firepower from their backcourt and will need to play smart.

If DePaul senior guard Jeremiah Kelly repeats his 24 point performance that he had against Mississippi Valley State on the 14th, DePaul will be in great shape.

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the point guard position for the Gophers and that makes Minnesota vulnerable. Freshman Andre Hollins is the starter, but has been challenged for the spot by sophomore Maverick Ahanmisi and junior Julian Welch.

Tubby Smith's squad has been turnover prone lately too. That's another area where the Blue Demons may be able to gain an advantage. In Minnesota's 67-57 win over Fairfield, the Gophers turned the ball over 23 times.

While the Gophers aren't experienced in the backcourt, their frontcourt is one of the best in the country. Senior Ralph Sampson III is a versatile big man who has a solid mid-range game. Marquette transfer Trevor Mbakwe is a beast who is averaging a near double-double of 16 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Unknown at this time is whether Sampson will play or not against DePaul. Sampson sat out the Gophers 85-56 win over Mount St. Mary's on Monday night with an ankle injury. Sampson has not practiced at all this week.

When asked if Sampson will be ready for Thursday, Smith replied, "I hope. I guess he will be."

Junior Rodney Williams was only averaging 5.7 ppg going in to Monday night, but is a slasher who can explode at any time for Minnesota. Williams unloaded for 12 points in the first half against Mount St. Mary's.

One area where the Blue Demons have struggled lately is on the glass. DePaul was outrebounded by a 40-34 margin against MVSU. Needless to say, if Sampson plays, DePaul is going to have their hands full with Minnesota's frontcourt.

The good news is that 6-9 big man Donnavan Kirk is eligible for this game after sitting out the last year following his transfer from Miami. He arrives just in time to help the Blue Demons on the boards.

For more on Kirk's impact for the Blue Demons, see our interview story with Kirk at this link… Donnavan Kirk is Ready to Hit the Floor

DePaul coach Oliver Purnell certainly has had plenty of time to get his team ready for the Old Spice tournament.

"I'm excited about the tournament," said Purnell. "Obviously, I've known Tubby for a long time. I've known Ron Jirsa and a couple of their assistants. So I know they'll have a tough physical team. It will be big test for us."

One question for DePaul going into this matchup, is how will they respond to being off for over a week due to final exams? Will they come in rusty or amped on Thanksgiving in front of a national audience?

"It's ESPN2 on Thanksgiving Day," said Purnell. "The (Detroit) Lions aren't playing well now, so watch us."

DePaul fans are hopeful that the Blue Demons are more successful in defeating the Gophers in Florida than Carl Spackler was at Bushwoods Country Club.


- DePaul will play either Texas Tech or Indiana State in the second round of the Old Spice Classic on Friday.

Minnesota Roster

13 Ahanmisi, Maverick Guard 6-2 192 SO Santa Clarita, Calif. (Stoneridge Prep)

23 Armelin, Chip Guard 6-3 198 SO Sulphur, La. (Sulphur)

11 Coleman, Joe Guard 6-4 200 FR Minneapolis, Minn. (Hopkins)

55 Eliason, Elliott Center 6-11 260 RS FR Chadron, Neb. (Chadron)

22 Halvorsen, Chris Forward 6-8 214 RS SO St. Paul, Minn. (Henry Sibley)

1 Hollins, Andre Guard 6-1 200 FR Memphis, Tenn. (White Station)

20 Hollins, Austin Guard 6-4 185 SO Germantown, Tenn. (Germantown)

30 Ingram, Andre Forward 6-7 213 JR Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Transitions)

32 Mbakwe, Trevor Forward 6-8 245 RS SR St. Paul, Minn. (St. Bernard's)

10 Osenieks, Oto Forward 6-8 205 RS FR Riga, Latvia (Brehm Prep)

50 Sampson III, Ralph F/C 6-11 241 SR Duluth, Ga. (Northview)

34 Shell, Kendal Guard 6-0 190 FR St. Louis, Mo. (Webster Groves)

15 Walker, Maurice Forward 6-10 289 SO Scarborough, Ontario (Brewster Academy)

00 Welch, Julian Guard 6-3 195 JR Elk Grove, Calif. (Franklin)

33 Williams, Rodney Forward 6-7 200 JR Minneapolis, Minn. (Robbinsdale Cooper)

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