DePaul vs. Villanova Game Preview

After coming off the high of their first Big East win on Thursday vs. Pittsburgh, the Blue Demons will look to keep their momentum going as they visit the Villanova Wildcats for a Sunday Big East matchup.

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DePaul Blue Demons vs. Villanova Wildcats – Sunday, January 8th, 11:00 a.m. Central – The Pavilion, Villanova, PA

Television – Big East TV Network (WCUU - The U Too in Chicago)

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Game Preview

After coming off the high of their first Big East win on Thursday vs. Pittsburgh, the DePaul Blue Demons (10-4, 1-1) will look to keep their momentum going as they visit the Villanova Wildcats for a Sunday Big East matchup.

The Demons will look to keep it going against a struggling Villanova squad who are not quite living up to expectations. The Wildcats are a surprising 7-8 overall and 0-3 in Big East play after losing on Thursday at home to South Florida 74-57. Villanova has now dropped four out of their last five games.

"It's the Big East," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said of going forward. "I think that one thing's for sure: we're going on the road now and we've got to be really prepared, ready to meet a team that is like a wounded bear up there in Villanova. They lost a home game the other night which is unspeakable around there. They're going to come out spitting bullets and we're going to have to meet that energy and force in order to have a chance to win."

For a team that that was ranked eighth in the Big East preseason poll, Villanova has stumbled out of the gate and is still searching for answers.

"We're a struggling team right now but we're going to battle through this," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "We're going to get better."

This year's early season struggles for Villanova follows a disappointing finish to the 2010-11 season. Last year, Villanova ended their season losing six games in a row (including a First Round NCAA Tournament loss to George Mason) and eight out of their last ten. Ironically their last win in Big East play was when they beat DePaul 77-75 in overtime last year at Allstate Arena.

After losing the likes of Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena, the Wildcats are still searching for an identity and leadership.

Don't be mistaken, Villanova has talent and the athletes to make a run and reverse course. They are a team in desperate need of a victory, so the Wildcats will have motivation to come out inspired.

"Right now, we're just focused on Villanova," said senior guard Jeremiah Kelly. "Villanova is known for being a good team. They just came off a loss so they're going to come out really motivated…We've got to go in there and take care of business and we can move on from there.

The Wildcats are headed by a couple of versatile guards and an imposing big man. Leading the charge for the Wildcats is Maalik Wayns and his 17.2 points per game, who ranks seventh in the Big East. Wayns is complimented by Dominic Cheek and his 11.2 PPG. The Wildcats also get a boost down low from F/CMouphtaou Yarou who chips in with 12.7 PPG and a team-high 7.9 RPG (which is also ranks seventh in the league).

Wright is searching for someone other than Wayns to step up in the scoring department.

"Aside from Maalik, we don't really have a proven scorer, someone who has scored in the Big East," said Wright. "That kind of guy can break someone's run. We're hoping Mouph can develop into a guy like that, Ty can, JayVaughn can. But right now Maalik is the only guy and there is a lot of pressure on him to score when someone is on a run."

Where the Wildcats excel is at the free-throw line. Wayns (89 percent) and Cheek (85 percent) rank second and third respectively in the Big East in free-throw percentage. Collectively, Villanova leads the Big East in free-throw percentage shooting at 75 percent.

Working in DePaul's favor is the fact that Villanova ranks 15th in the Big East in scoring defense (68.7 PPG) just ahead of the Blue Demons who give up 72.3 PPG. DePaul is third in the Big East in scoring offense, scoring on average 77.6 points a night (Villanova comes in at 10th, scoring 71.8 PPG). So, the chances of this game becoming a track meet are very likely.

While the win over Pittsburgh was nice, DePaul would like to keep the train moving and if they could take care of business on the road in Philadelphia, than their prospects for a bright Big East future would looking promising.

The Last Time

The Blue Demons took 15th ranked Villanova to overtime, but Wildcats' point guard Corey Fisher proved too much for DePaul to handle in a 77-75 loss at Allstate Arena on February 19th, 2011.

With a three point lead and 12 seconds to go, DePaul (7-9, 1-13) had the opportunity to upset Villanova, but Fisher came down court and drilled a three pointer to take the game to overtime.

DePaul junior Jeremiah Kelly had a chance to win it, but was double-teamed as he launched a shot at the buzzer to end regulation tied 62-62.

Corey Fisher scored seven of his career-high 34 points in overtime to lead Nova to the win.

Maalik Wayns finished with 17 points and Mouphtaou Yarou contributed with a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds for the victorious Wildcats.

The Blue Demons stayed in the game with their prowess from the perimeter, shooting 13 of 30 for 43.3% on the game from three point territory.

DePaul kept it close despite being outrebounded 50-36 on the boards.

Junior guard Jeremiah Kelly scored a career-high 25 points and went seven of 13 from beyond the arc. The seven trifectas were also a career-high for Kelly.

Freshman Moses Morgan also finished with a career high of 15 points off the bench. Fellow freshman Cleveland Melvin scored 16 in the losing effort.

Villanova Roster

No. Name Pos. Cl. (Exp.) Ht. Wt. Hometown High School

32 James Bell Guard SO 6-6 225 Orlando, Fla. Montverde Academy

23 Dominic Cheek Guard JR 6-6 190 Jersey City, N.J. St. Anthony's

4 Darrun Hilliard Guard FR 6-6 205 Bethlehem, Pa. Liberty

3 Ty Johnson Guard FR 6-3 185 Plainfield, N.J. Montrose Christian

21 Markus Kennedy Forward FR 6-9 260 Philadelphia, Pa. Brewster Academy

12 Nick McMahon Guard SO 6-0 165 Colts Neck, N.J. Christian Brothers Academy

20 Dallas Ouano Guard SR 6-0 190 Holmdel, N.J. Christian Brothers Academy

22 Jayvaughn Pinkston Forward FR 6-7 260 Brooklyn, N.Y. Bishop Loughlin

25 Maurice Sutton Forward/Center JR 6-11 220 Largo, Md. Largo

2 Maalik Wayns Guard JR 6-2 200 Philadelphia, Pa. Roman Catholic

24 Achraf Yacoubou Guard FR 6-4 210 Bronx, N.Y. Long Island Lutheran

13 Mouphtaou Yarou Forward/Center JR 6-10 255 Natitingou, Benin Montrose Christian School


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