DePaul Blue Demons (1-0) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-0) – Thursday, November 17th, 7:30 p.m. Central – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Television – FOX Sports 1
Radio – WYLL AM 1160
After two straight wins to begin their campaign, the Scarlet Knights invade Rosemont, Illinois, aiming to secure a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008-09. This meeting marks the 11th time these two schools have played one another, but it’s their first duel since 2013. Rutgers holds a slight advantage, winning six of the previous 10 contests.
In their most recent affair, Rutgers knocked off DePaul 76-57 in the Big East Tournament. Then-sophomore forward Cleveland Melvin scored a team-high 25 points, and then-junior guard Brandon Young chipped in with 15 points. Prior to its realignment in July 2013, the Scarlet Knights were a part of the Big East conference.
Moreover, the matchup stems from the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual eight-game series between programs from the Big East and Big Ten, which is occurring for the second straight year. Last season, the conferences split the pot, winning four games apiece. DePaul lost at Penn State in their Gavitt Games appearance last year.
Over Rutgers’ first two contests, the Scarlet Knights have yielded only 61.5 points per game. A large part of the improved defense should be accredited to first-year head coach Steve Pikiell. During the 2015-16 slate, Stony Brook, where Pikiell last manned the sidelines, ranked No. 34 in the nation in defensive efficiency, allowing just .94 points per possession. On the flip side, Rutgers ranked No. 330, giving up 1.09 points per possession.
Additionally, on Sunday afternoon, Pikiell’s bunch outrebounded the Drexel Dragons 56-29 in a 21-point squashing. In the Blue Demons’ tightly-contested regular season opener, they finished minus-six on the glass. Plus, they allowed 15 offensive rebounds. Assuming freshman 6-foot-10 Levi Cook is unable to return from a sprained MCL and a hyperextended knee, DePaul must improve its gang rebounding efforts.
“Rotations (on defense) aren’t particularly there yet,” Leitao said on The Dave Leitao Show on 670 The Score. “Right now, we’re amongst a couple hundred teams who are trying to figure themselves out.”
Unsurprisingly, the 48-year-old educator grasped the significance of that end of the court from Blue Demons’ head coach Dave Leitao. Pikiell suited up at Connecticut from 1987-91 while Leitao was an assistant in Storrs, Connecticut.
“I’ve known him since the first day he stepped on campus (at UConn),” Leitao said on WSCR.
Through 80 minutes of action, 6-foot-1 guard Nigel Johnson has paced the Scarlet Knights in scoring, producing 14.5 points per game, as well as 5.5 rebounds and four assists. Alongside the Ashburn, Va. native, 7-foot center C.J. Gettys has chipped in with 12 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest, and 6-foot-7 forward DeShawn Freeman is averaging a double-double, accumulating 11.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.
- The broadcasters on FOX Sports 1 for the game will be Tim Brando and Bill Raftery.
NO NAME Pos. Class HT WT High School/Hometown/Last College
23 Batie, Khalil Guard SR 5-10 174 Trenton Catholic Academy/Willingboro, N.J.
13 Bullock, Matt Forward FR 6-4 260 Roselle Catholic/Elizabeth, N.J.
15 Dadika, Jake Guard JR 6-0 165 Spotswood/Milltown, N.J.
32 Diallo, Ibrahima Forward/Center RS SO 6-10 246 Quality Education Academy/Dakar, Senegal
2 Doorson, Shaquille Center RS SO 7-0 270 Canarias Basketball Academy/Amsterdam, The Netherlands
33 Freeman, Deshawn Forward RS JR 6-7 225 Rocky Mount Prep/Rocky Mount, N.C./Hutchinson (Kan.) CC
34 Gettys, C.J. Center SR 7-0 280 Findlay HS/Columbus, Ohio/UNC-Wilmington
0 Johnson, Nigel Guard RS JR 6-1 186 Riverdale (Md.) Baptist/Ashburn, Va./Kansas State
4 Laurent, Jonathan Forward SO 6-6 216 Dr. Phillips HS/Orlando, Fla.
11 Omoruyi, Eugene Forward FR 6-6 230 Orangeville Prep/Rexdale, Ontario
21 Sa, Candido Forward JR 6-9 227 Colegio Bartolomeu Dias/Lisbon, Portugal/San Jacinto College (Texas)
3 Sanders, Corey Guard SO 6-2 181 West Oaks Academy/Lakeland, Fla.
35 Thiam, Issa Forward FR 6-9 190 Arlington Country Day (Fla.)/Dakar, Senegal
5 Williams, Mike Guard JR 6-2 198 Bishop Loughlin/Brooklyn, N.Y.