DePaul Blue Demons (7-5) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (7-5) – Friday, December 27th, 8:00 p.m. Central – Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Illinois
Television – Big Ten Network
Radio – WSCR AM 670 (Northwestern Broadcast on WMVP AM 1000)
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History is not working in the Blue Demons favor going into Friday night's game at Welsh-Ryan Arena. While DePaul holds a 19-10 edge in the series with nearby rival Northwestern, the Demons haven't won a game in Evanston since December 16, 1995.
DePaul also seems to struggle following the Christmas Holiday break, last year the Blue Demons dropped a 63-58 loss at home to Loyola on December 29th.
The Blue Demons will have to shake off that holiday rust quickly to have a chance of winning this one.
The Demons are coming off a 69-64 loss on the road at Illinois State on Sunday. DePaul's seniors failed to show up and help their team in that loss. Cleveland Melvin was held to a season-low four points. With a chance to tie on DePaul's final possession in the game, Brandon Young chose to chuck up a selfish, ill-advised, contested three point shot.
For the Blue Demons to improve and get a road win, they will need those two seniors to show up.
DePaul coach Oliver Purnell is looking for more consistency from his team, particularly Melvin.
"When (Melvin) doesn't play well, we struggle sometimes," Purnell said. "I think if we get some consistency from him, as well as the rest of our team, we've got a chance to be pretty good."
Another key is for frontcourt players Tommy Hamilton IV and Sandi Marcius to stay out of foul trouble and maintain a rebounding advantage over Northwestern. Marcius has made the trip to Evanston often in the Big 10 as a member of the Purdue Boilermakers, and has some familiarity with the Wildcats.
NU coach Chris Collins is in his first year of trying to turn around a Northwestern program that has never made the NCAA tournament.
Northwestern is coming off a low scoring home win over Brown on Sunday. The Wildcats defeated Brown 58-52. Northwestern senior Drew Crawford led the way with a double-double performance of 24 points and 11 rebounds in that contest.
NU relies heavily on Crawford, who averages 16.5 points per game. Junior guard Jershon Cobb also helps make up the bulk of the scoring with 13.6 ppg, however Cobb has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. The Wildcats hope to get Cobb back for Friday's game. He is expected to play, but not start the game for NU.
DePaul reserve Jamee Crockett is questionable after spraining his right knee two weeks ago.
Northwestern leans on their guards the most. Up front, 7-1 sophomore center Alex Olah is their man in the middle. Olah is averaging 8.7 points, five rebounds, and almost two blocked shots per game.
DePaul will need to contain Olah in the paint.
The Wildcats are 6-1 at Welsh-Ryan Arena this season and have won five straight at home.
Both teams come in with records of 7-5, the one that works the hardest on the defensive end should walk away with their eighth win of the season.
The Last Time
On December 6, 2008, the DePaul Blue Demons went ice cold on a winter day in their 63-36 loss to cross-town rival Northwestern. Playing without sophomore forward Mac Koshwal, the Demons failed to execute on offense and shot an embarrassing 24.1% from the field at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The 36 point offensive output was the worst by a DePaul team since the Blue Demons lost 37-26 to Oklahoma A&M on Jan. 29, 1949.
The Demons shot 20% from behind the arc.
It was the Kevin Coble Show as the junior forward scored 25 points for Northwestern on his way to earning his second Waldo Fisher-Frank McGrath award in three years as the Most Valuable Player of the game. Coble was 11 of 19 from the field.
The Wildcats started the game out on a 7-0 run and things snowballed from there as they reached a 31-15 lead by halftime.
Without Koshwal in the lineup, Northwestern chose to double-team DePaul's leading scorer Dar Tucker. Tucker finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds while shooting six of 20 from the field.
Northwestern's Kevin Coble won the Waldo Fisher-Frank McGrath Award as the game's Most Valuable Player. It was the second time in three years that he won the award.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year Hometown/High School/Last College
1 Drew Crawford G/F 6-5 215 RS SR Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central
3 Dave Sobolewski G 6-1 180 JR Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy
13 Kale Abrahamson F 6-7 210 SO West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley
14 Tre Demps G 6-2 193 RS SO San Antonio, Texas/Ronald Reagan
15 James Montgomery III G 6-4 202 SR Los Angeles, Calif./Santa Monica
22 Alex Olah C 7-0 265 SO Timisoara, Romania/Traders Point Christian Academy (Zionsville, Ind.)
23 JerShon Cobb G 6-5 205 RS JR Decatur, Ga./Columbia
31 Aaron Liberman F/C 6-10 215 RS FR Los Angeles, Calif./Valley Torah
32 Nathan Taphorn F 6-7 190 FR Pekin, Ill./Pekin
34 Sanjay Lumpkin G/F 6-6 210 RS FR Wayzata, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret's
42 Chier Ajou C 7-2 245 RS FR Aweil, South Sudan/Culver Academies (Ind.)/St. Thomas More (Conn.)
45 Nikola Cerina F 6-9 235 RS SR Topola Oplenac, Serbia/Nikola Tesla S.S./TCU
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