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DePaul vs. Rutgers Preview

Following a 78-72 win over Robert Morris at McGrath-Phillips Arena, DePaul hopes to string together back-to-back victories tomorrow night. The Blue Demons will battle Rutgers in the final home opener at Allstate Arena.  We preview the game in this report.

Key Information

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

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Rutgers Basketball

Game Preview

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.

Rutgers Roster

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.

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