DePaul Big East Tournament Preview

The Blue Demons meet the Georgetown Hoyas in the opening round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. Central. We preview the game in this report.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons (11-20, 3-15) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (17-13, 8-10) – Wednesday, March 12th, 8:30 p.m. Central – Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

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Game Preview

After falling to Butler last Thursday (79-46) and with the Bulldogs subsequently beating Seton Hall on Saturday, DePaul (11-20, 3-15) once again finished in last place in the conference and will now enter the Big East Tournament with the No. 10 seed and will be matched up with Georgetown (17-13, 8-10), who come in with the No. 7 seed. The two teams will battle in the second game of the Big East Tournament's first-round action at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night after Butler squares off against Seton Hall in the first game.

The winner of the DePaul-Georgetown contest will face No. 2 seed Creighton on Thursday night.

In a Big East conference call on Monday, DePaul coach Oliver Purnell admitted his team likely played their worst game of the season against Butler, but he will not let the team wallow and are focused at the task at hand.

"We're approaching New York, and in practice, with the idea that we have an opportunity to prove a lot," Purnell said. "We can prove we are better (than we've shown), and prove we can win. We have nothing to lose. Our guys are looking forward to possibly making some noise."

Georgetown, who is on the precipice of NCAA Tournament consideration, almost definitely has to win this game—and likely more— to have any shot of getting back to the NCAA Tournament. With five top-50 wins on their resume, though, Georgetown does have some things going for them. Thus far this season, the Hoyas have already beaten VCU, Creighton and Michigan State.

Most recently, the Hoyas lost to the Big East regular season champs, Villanova, 77-59, on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Georgetown has already beaten DePaul twice this year. They took down DePaul on the first day of Big East play on New Year's Eve at home by a score of 61-54. The Hoyas would complete the season sweep by defeating the Demons, 71-59, at Allstate Arena on February 3rd.

Leading the way for the Hoyas is All Big East First-Team member Markel Starks. Starks, who is the younger brother of DePaul assistant coach Renard Phillips, is Georgetown's leading scorer (17.1 ppg—which places him fourth in the Big East) and the engine behind their success. Starks also paces the team in assists (4.1, which is seventh in the Big East). Lastly, Starks comes in second in the Big East in minutes played while averaging 36.8 minutes a game.

Georgetown also gets double-digit scoring production from sharp shooting guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, as he contributes 16.8 points a game.

Put simply, Starks and Smith-Rivera carry this team. If there was a weakness with the Hoyas, it is in the frontcourt. Georgetown was crippled by losing the services of Josh Smith and Greg Whittington this season. This proved to be quite the blow, because when you think Georgetown, you think strong, physical play under the basket.

For DePaul, this is the last chance for senior Brandon Young to make a mark for himself. After Cleveland Melvin was dismissed the team, it has been Young carrying the load. Young leads the Demons in scoring (16.2 ppg), assists (3.6 apg) and steals (1.8 spg).

He finished his career in the top four in DePaul history in both scoring and assists. However, winning games that matter have always eluded him. With a win, perhaps he can take some solace that he and his team didn't go out with a whimper.

After the drubbing the Butler handed DePaul, it's practical to think DePaul looks cooked, but Purnell insists his team is focused and will not go out without a fight.

"Right now, our focus is playing our best game in the first round of the tournament." Purnell said. "There's a few teams every year that make some noise in March and that's our outlook."

The Last Time

On February 3, 2014 at Allstate Arena, the Georgetown Hoyas were too much to handle for the Blue Demons in the second half in a 71-59 loss at Allstate Arena.

After leading 30-27 at the break, DePaul wilted in the second half shooting just 32.1 percent from the field in the half.

A technical foul on Tommy Hamilton IV with 10:41 remaining helped solidify a 44-37 Georgetown lead that DePaul was never able to recoup.

Three Blue Demons finished in double-figures. Senior guard Brandon Young led DePaul with 15 points and seven rebounds, but went five of 13 from the field.

Freshman guard Billy Garrett, Jr. returned from illness to score 12 points coming off the bench.

Freshman R.J. Curington, who was named Big East Rookie of the Week prior to the game and received his first career start, added 10 points while shooting four of 12 from the floor.

Georgetown guard Markel Starks led all scorers with 26 points. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 17 points in the winning effort for the Hoyas.

Georgetown Roster

NO NAME HT WT POS YEAR Hometown/High School

0 Tyler Adams 6-9 254 C JR Brandon, Miss./Brandon

1 Reggie Cameron 6-7 225 F FR Hackensack, N.J./Hudson Catholic

3 Mikael Hopkins 6-9 223 F JR Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha

4 D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera 6-3 218 G SO Indianapolis, Ind./North Central / Oak Hill Academy

5 Markel Starks 6-2 175 G SR Accokeek, Md./Georgetown Prep

12 David Allen 6-2 185 G SO Dallas, Texas/Highland Park

23 Aaron Bowen 6-6 208 F SR Jacksonville, Fla./QEA (N.C.)

24 Joshua Smith 6-10 350 C JR Kent, Wash./Kentwood

25 John Caprio 6-6 220 G SR North Caldwell, N.J./Seton Hall Prep

31 Stephen Domingo 6-6 206 G SO San Francisco, Calif./St. Ignatius

32 Moses Ayegba 6-9 247 C SR Kano, Nigeria/Progressive Christian (Md.)

34 Nate Lubick 6-8 219 F SR Southborough, Mass./St. Mark's

42 Bradley Hayes 7-0 251 C SO Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood

55 Jabril Trawick 6-5 210 G JR Philadelphia, Pa./Abington Friends

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