DePaul Blue Demons (4-1) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (5-2) – Saturday, December 3rd, 6:00 p.m. Central – Evanston, Illinois
Television – Big Ten Network
Radio – WSCR AM 670
Following late-game heroics from guards Billy Garrett Jr. and Eli Cain in comeback wins over Missouri State and Drake, respectively, DePaul (4-1) heads to Evanston, Illinois to face Northwestern (5-2).
Ironically, the last time the Blue Demons stepped on the hardwood at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Garrett Jr. converted a layup at the horn as well, which sealed a 57-56 upset victory over the Wildcats in the 2013-14 campaign. He finished with nine points and four assists. Forward Sandi Marcius actually led the bunch in scoring with 12 points on 5-of-6 from the field.
Last season, the Wildcats generated a 20-12 record but compiled just an 8-10 mark in the Big Ten. In mid-January, a five-game downward spiral, including losses to four of the conference’s top squads (Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa) crushed their chances of appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
Nevertheless, fourth-year head coach Chris Collins now appears to possess his best core yet. Succeeding its 65-58 win over Wake Forest (No. 64) on Monday night, Northwestern sits at a respectable No. 47 in KenPom’s ratings. Junior guard Bryant McIntosh notched 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting in the victory.
Additionally, the Wildcats recently knocked off then-ranked No. 22 Texas 77-58 in the Legends Classic before losing to Notre Dame 70-66 in a tightly contested affair.
Overall, redshirt sophomore Vic Law paces the offense with 16.1 points per contest, as well as manufacturing 4.7 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 forward missed all of the 2015-16 season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, so his productivity wasn’t a given. Alongside him, guard Scottie Lindsey ranks second in scoring with 15 points per game, and the aforementioned McIntosh is third with 14.1 points per contest.
As a team, Collins’ group has averaged a plus-4.3 rebounding margin through their first seven matchups. Unfortunately, 6-foot-8 Derek Pardon, who accumulated seven rebounds per game, is out at least three weeks due to a hand injury. Hence, beyond 6-foot-6 swingman Sanjay Lumpkin, who averages 5.4 rebounds per game, the Wildcats lack size.
“He’s (Lumpkin) the rock of our defense,” Collins said.
Still, unless 6-foot-10 center Levi Cook can play a sizable amount of minutes, DePaul’s frontcourt depth is concerning as well. So far, the Blue Demons are a minus-three on the glass to start the campaign. Thus, more small-ball appears on the way.
“They (the Blue Demons) do some things to try to create mismatches (with a smaller lineup),” Collins said.
In the scoring department, though, Cain hasn’t experienced any worries. Prior to DePaul's 77-75 win against Drake, Cain became the first Blue Demon since the 1986-87 season to collect at least 20 points in the first four contests of a campaign.
So far, he’s averaging a crisp 21.2 points per contest on 57.8 percent shooting. After failing to hit a triple for the first time all season against the Bulldogs, the New Jersey native will look to find his three-point stroke again versus the Wildcats.
- The MVP of the game will be awarded the Waldo Fisher-Frank McGrath Award.
The Last Time
On December 19, 2015, in a hotly contested game at Allstate Arena, it was the Northwestern Wildcats who prevailed in overtime to hand the Blue Demons a 78-70 loss.
DePaul led by as many as seven points in the second half, but succumbed to the Northwestern zone late in the second half and in the overtime period.
The difference in the game was each team’s shooting during overtime. The Wildcats went five for seven overall and two for three on 3-pointers. While DePaul shot three for nine overall and one for six from beyond the arc during the overtime period.
Northwestern’s Tre Demps won the game’s Waldo Fisher-Frank McGrath MVP award after leading the Wildcats with 18 points despite shooting just seven for 20 from the field and one for six from beyond the arc.
Four of the Wildcat starters finished in double figures. Alex Olah overcame foul trouble in the second half to score 14 points. Sanjay Lumpkin also contributed 14, while Bryant McIntosh chipped in with 13 points.
DePaul’s Myke Henry led all scorers with 24 points and eight rebounds.
Senior guard Aaron Simpson grabbed a career high eight rebounds and shot five for seven in the first half, but then went ice cold in the second half and overtime, going zero for six from the field the rest of the way to end up with 13 points.
Tommy Hamilton IV came in off the bench to contribute 10 points in the losing effort.
Billy Garrett, Jr. finished with seven points after playing only two minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
NO. NAME POS. HT. WT. YEAR HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL
4 Vic Law F 6-7 205 R-So. South Holland, Ill. / St. Rita
5 Dererk Pardon C 6-8 235 So. Cleveland, Ohio / Villa Angela-St. Joseph
10 Charlie Hall F 6-5 210 So. Los Angeles, Calif. / Crossroads School
12 Isiah Brown G 6-2 175 Fr. Seattle, Wash. / Lakeside
14 Rapolas Ivanauskas F 6-9 210 Fr. Barrington, Ill. / Brewster Academy (N.H.)
20 Scottie Lindsey G/F 6-5 210 Jr. Hillside, Ill. / Fenwick
21 Tino Malnati G 6-3 175 Fr. Northfield, Ill. / New Trier
23 Jordan Ash G 6-3 190 So. Bolingbrook, Ill. / St. Joseph
25 Barret Benson C 6-10 240 Fr. Willowbrook, Ill. / Hinsdale South
30 Bryant McIntosh G 6-3 185 Jr. Greensburg, Ind. / Greensburg
32 Nathan Taphorn F 6-7 215 Sr. Pekin, Ill. / Pekin
34 Sanjay Lumpkin G/F 6-6 220 R-Sr. Wayzata, Minn. / Benilde-St. Margaret's
35 Aaron Falzon F 6-8 215 So. Newton, Mass. / Northfield Mount Hermon
44 Gavin Skelly F 6-8 220 Jr. Westlake, Ohio / Westlake