DePaul vs. Xavier Game Preview

The Blue Demons travel to Cincinnati to face the Xavier Musketeers at 6 p.m. Central on Wednesday night. We preview the game in this report.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons (10-16, 2-11) vs. Xavier Musketeers (17-8, 8-5) – Wednesday, February 19th, 6 p.m. Central – Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

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Game Preview

With DePaul's tailspin seemingly with no end in sight, the Blue Demons will nevertheless try to reverse course as they head out on the road to Cincinnati this Wednesday night.

If this was the old Big East, this would have meant a trip to Fifth Third Arena to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats. But in the "new" Big East, it means the Demons will take on the Xavier Musketeers, as the two teams play in the Cintas Center as conference foes for the first time.

The Musketeers are coming off a disheartening 81-72 loss at the hands of the Marquette Golden Eagles in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon. At 7-5 (18-8 overall) in the conference, Xavier sits tied for third place in the Big East with Marquette now. The Demons are fresh off a waxing at Providence, losing to the Friars 84-61.

So, with this game huge for the Musketeers in regaining some momentum, expect them to come out fired up, especially after looking lackadaisical against Marquette, in which they committed a season-high 19 turnovers.

It could get ugly for the struggling Blue Demons.

After all, this will be the second time the two teams will have played and while the Demons made a run in the second half in the first game, they were not sharp, losing 84-74 on January 20th at Allstate Arena. If you recall, this was the game where DePaul coach Oliver Purnell sat leading scorer Brandon Young (15.2 ppg) for the whole second half for perceived lack of leadership. Also, the game ended up being Cleveland Melvin's, who has since been dismissed, last game with the program.

At 10-16 (2-11 in the Big East) the wheels look like they are coming off again for the Demons and winning at Xavier will prove to be a tall task. Having dropped four out of their last six games, Xavier must step up down the stretch if they have ideas of playing in the NCAA Tournament. So they will look at this game as a must win.

Leading the way for the Musketeers are Semaj Christon and Matt Stainbrook, who provide Xavier with a great inside-out combo.

Christon is the Musketeers leading scorer (16.6 ppg, good for eighth in the conference) and is the go-to-player for Xavier when they need a basket. Christon is a versatile 6'3" guard who can score in a variety of ways and one who is hard to guard. He also is good at setting up his teammates, as he averages four assists per game.

Stainbrook is the bruiser down low for the Musketeers. Stainbrook leads Xavier in rebounding (8.8 rpg, which is second in the Big East) while also chipping in with 11.1 ppg.

Xavier is a great rebounding team, as they lead the conference in rebounding offense (37.6 per game), rebounding defense (31.6 per game) and rebounding margin (+6). They are known for their trademark intensity and physicality.

So, efficiency will be key in this game. For a Demons' team that ranks ninth in the Big East in field goal percentage (.425), making good decisions with the ball is of the utmost importance.

For a DePaul squad that has lost eight in a row, the chances for them to break that streak are indeed daunting.

The Last Time

On January 20, 2014 at Allstate Arena, DePaul's second half rally fell short after digging too deep of a hole in the first half as they fell 84-74 to Xavier in a Martin Luther King Day matinee.

DePaul trailed 50-32 at intermission which made head coach Oliver Purnell none too pleased during the break. Purnell's response to the lackluster play was to bench senior guard Brandon Young for the entire second half.

After trailing by as many as 19 points, DePaul rallied in the second half, but could pull no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Xavier shot 67.9% from the floor in the first half and 45% in the second stanza.

Xavier guard Semaj Christian led all scorers with 27 points on nine of 12 from the floor. Justin Martin scored 18 and Isiah Philmore added 13 in the winning effort for the Musketeers.

The Blue Demons did manage to keep Xavier center Matt Stainbrook below his average. Stainbrook ended the afternoon with six points and eight rebounds.

Senior forward Cleveland Melvin led the way for DePaul with 25 points. Garrett added 18 points.

DePaul freshmen center Tommy Hamilton IV played only six minutes after getting elbowed in the chest by Stainbrook.

Charles McKinney also left the game in the second half after rolling his ankle and did not return to the game.

Xavier Roster

No. Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School)

5 Abell, Remy JR Guard 6-4 200 Louisville, Ky. (Eastern)

22 Amos, Landen SR Guard 6-4 185 Chicago, Ill. (Mt. Carmel)

0 Christon, Semaj SO Guard 6-3 190 Cincinnati, Ohio (Brewster Academy (N.H.))

32 Coker, Kevin SO Forward 6-6 200 Plainfield, Ill. (Plainfield South)

11 Davis, Dee JR Guard 6-0 161 Bloomington, Ind. (South)

15 Davis, Myles FR Guard 6-2 195 Plainfield, N.J. (Notre Dame Prep (Mass.))

2 Farr, James SO Forward 6-9 237 Evanston, Ill. (Maine Central Insitute (Pittsfield, Maine))

20 Martin, Justin JR Forward 6-6 205 Indianapolis, Ind. (Lawrence North and Mountain State (W.Va.) Academy)

31 Philmore, Isaiah SR Forward 6-8 230 Bel Air, Md. (John Carroll School)

3 Randolph, Brandon FR Guard 6-1 190 Inglewood, Calif. (Inglewood)

1 Reynolds, Jalen FR Forward 6-9 222 Detroit, Mich. (Brewster Academy (N.H.))

24 Richards, Kamall FR Forward 6-6 210 Brooklyn, N.Y. (South Kent School (Conn.))

40 Stainbrook, Matt JR Center 6-10 263 Bay Village, Ohio (Lakewood St. Edward)

21 Stainbrook, Tim FR Forward 6-5 180 Bay Village, Ohio (Lakewood St. Edward)

35 Stenger, Erik SR Forward 6-8 207 Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)

14 Whelan, Tim SR Guard 5-9 160 Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)

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