DePaul Blue Demons (10-8, 1-4) vs. Pittsburgh (16-4, 4-3) – Saturday, January 26th, 3:00 p.m. Central – Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Television – WCUU – The U Too Chicago, Big East TV Network
Radio – WSCR AM 670
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History certainly isn't on the Blue Demons side in this Big East matchup. DePaul has never won a game at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh.
Added to that, you have a Pitt team bent on revenge after losing 84-81 at DePaul last year.
Two things contributed to that loss for the Panthers, DePaul shot an incredible 63.6% from beyond the arc in the second half and Pitt was playing without starting point guard Tray Woodall.
Well Woodall is back this year for Pitt. The senior is averaging 10.7 points per game and is dishing out 5.7 assists per game. Woodall is a big reason why as of January 20th, Pitt was leading the nation in assist to turnover ratio (1.82). Given that DePaul's press likes to feast on turnovers, that makes the Panthers a very tough matchup for the Blue Demons.
Pittsburgh has Cleveland Melvin's cousin Durand Johnson coming off the bench. In a win over Villanova on the 16th, Johnson scored 13 points.
Pitt is a big, strong, physical basketball team. That's always a trademark of Jamie Dixon's teams. The Panthers are outrebounding opponents by an average of eight boards per game. Last year at Allstate Arena, Pitt outmuscled DePaul on the boards by a 50-32 margin.
"You've got to match that physicality," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell told WSCR radio. "If we have some foul trouble, then we kind of deal with it then. I think it's real important that we're physical. You've got to screen people and lay bodies on folks in the lane when the ball goes up on the rim. You've got to be physical in the Big East in order to compete in the lane, particulary when you're going up against teams like this group. (Steven) Adams is a big kid inside and (Talib) Zanna, they're just big strong basketball players, that you've got to compete physically with in the lane."
If Pitt has a vulnerability it's inexperience. The Panthers are starting two freshmen – center Steven Adams and guard James Robinson. Adams has been prone to getting into foul trouble.
For DePaul to win this one, they will have to start firing on all cylinders. That's something they haven't done since winning on the road at Arizona State in December.
The Blue Demons seem to have a couple of players step up, but not everyone at the same time. Case and point, in last Saturday's lost to St. John's, Cleveland Melvin and Jamee Crockett finished in double-figures, but Brandon Young was a no-show with six points and seven turnovers. In other games Melvin and Young have carried the load, but have had no supporting cast.
The Last Time
On January 5th, 2012 at Allstate Arena, the Blue Demons earned their first Big East win of the season and handed the Pitt Panthers their fourth straight defeat in a 84-81 victory.
DePaul trailed by four points with just sixteen seconds to play. That's when sophomore point guard Brandon Young put on the cape and took over. Young drove in for a layup with eight seconds remaining.
After Pitt's Isaiah Epps missed two free throws, Young tied the game up 81-81 with another layup. This time he drew a foul and went to the free throw line with a chance to sink the game winner.
Young obliged at the free throw line to put the Demons up 82-81 and then stole the ball with 0.8 seconds left and drew a foul giving him the opportunity to put in two more foul shots to secure the win.
Young led all scorers with 26 points.
The Blue Demons won despite being outworked on the glass by a 50-32 margin by Pittsburgh. DePaul was able to score 22 points off of 15 Pitt turnovers.
DePaul had four players finish in double-figures. Cleveland Melvin scored 20 points to go along with 6 rebounds. Moses Morgan came in off the bench to contribute 13 points and Kelly added 11.
The Blue Demons shot 63.6% from three point range in the second half.
Pittsburgh (11-5, 0-3) had all five starters finish in double-figures. Talib Zanna led the way with 16 points. Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson contributed with 13 apiece. Lamar Patterson and John Johnson each added 10 points in the losing effort.
# NAME HT/WT POS YR HOMETOWN/LAST SCHOOL
0 James Robinson 6-3/200 Guard FR Mitchellville, Md./DeMatha Catholic H.S.
1 Tray Woodall 6-0/190 Guard RS SR Brooklyn, N.Y.-Paterson, N.J./St. Anthony H.S. (N.J.)
3 Cameron Wright 6-4/205 Guard RS SO Cleveland, Ohio/Benedictine H.S.
5 Durand Johnson 6-6/195 Forward RS FR Baltimore, Md./Brewster Academy (N.H.)
11 Dante Taylor 6-9/235 Forward SR Greenburgh, N.Y./National Christian Academy (Md.)
12 Chris Jones 6-6/210 Guard/Forward FR Teaneck, N.J./Teaneck H.S.
13 Steven Adams 7-0/250 Center FR Rotorua, New Zealand/Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)/Scots College Prep (N.Z.)
15 Aron Nwankwo 6-7.5/215 Forward JR Baltimore, Md./Baltimore City College H.S.
21 Lamar Patterson 6-5/221 Guard/Forward RS JR Lancaster, Pa./St. Benedict's (N.J.)/J.P. McCaskey H.S.
23 Trey Zeigler 6-5/203 Guard/Forward JR Detroit, Mich./Central Michgan
24 Mike Lecak 6-2/175 Guard SO Pittsburgh, Pa./Wheeling Jesuit
42 Talib Zanna 6-9/230 Forward RS JR Kaduna, Nigeria/Bishop McNamara (Md.)
44 J.J. Moore 6-6/215 Forward JR Brentwood, N.Y./South Kent Prep/Brentwood H.S.
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