DePaul Blue Demons (8-15, 1-9) vs. No. 24 Xavier Musketeers (17-6, 7-3) – Wednesday, February 7th, 5:30 p.m. Central – Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
Television – Fox Sports 1
Radio – WSCR AM 670
Losers of six in a row, DePaul will now try to break its streak against the last Big East team it has not faced this season, the Xavier Musketeers, when they duel in Cincinnati Wednesday night.
After seeing their star guard Edmond Sumner go down with a torn ACL, the Musketeers have not missed a beat as Chris Mack's crew has won three games in a row since the injury. Well, maybe make that two and half, as Sumner missed most of the game at St. John's when he initially got hurt.
Most recently, Xavier secured one of its bigger wins of the season when it went on the road and took down Creighton, 82-80, on Saturday. The Musketeers are now in sole possession of second place in the Big East with a 7-3 mark.
With Sumner now gone, junior wing Trevon Bluiett is playing some of his best basketball of late. Bluiett is this week's Big East Player of the Week after he averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in two Musketeer wins. He also was the driving force in the final minutes in wins over Seton Hall and Creighton.
Bluiett, who is averaging a team-high 18.6 points per game (which ranks second in the Big East), had the winning basket with 4.4 seconds left in the victory over Seton Hall, as well as drilling back-to-back three pointers in the final moments against Creighton that effectively won the game for Xavier. In his last six games he is averaging 23.6 points per game.
In Sumner's stead, Mack has found a very capable backup in four-star freshman Quentin Goodin. Although he is averaging just 4.2 points and 2.3 assists for the season, he has been a blessing in disguise while stepping into Sumner's shoes. In the two-plus games Sumner has missed, Goodin is averaging a healthy 13 points and 4.6 assists per game.
To say Goodin has done an admirable job in answering the call would be a massive understatement.
Meanwhile, versatile guard J.P. Macura continues his impressive junior campaign. He does a little bit of everything-including playing some point now- and is averaging 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assist per game.
Down low, the Musketeers get serviceable production from Norfolk State transfer RaShid Gaston (6.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, the latter stat ranks fourth in the conference) and Kaiser Gates (5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game).
As usual, Xavier loves to grind opponents into submission and are again one of the better defensive and rebounding teams in the Big East. For DePaul to have a shot at winning it will have to have a good measure of balance (which occurred in the loss to Marquette Saturday when all five starters scored in double figures), limit turnovers and be competitive on the boards.
It will be easier said done, especially for a Xavier team still looking to lock down an NCAA Tournament bid. Also, it bears mentioning that ever since the Musketeers joined the Big East, the average margin of victory for Xavier against DePaul at the Cintas Center is 17.3 points.
The Last Time
On January 30, 2016 at Allstate Arena, seventh ranked Xavier handed the Blue Demons a 86-65 defeat.
In what turned out to be a game of runs, DePaul came out of the gate with a 9-0 run to start as Xavier was cold from the floor.
Xavier fought back with runs of 8-0 and 7-0 of their own in the first half to take the lead at intermission 42-33.
The Blue Demons got in foul trouble early as Myke Henry, Erten Gazi, and Peter Ryckbosch all had two fouls in the early minutes of the game.
Xavier got too many second chance opportunities as they outrebounded DePaul 39-27.
At the end of the day, Xavier was just too deep and too skilled of a team for the Blue Demons.
The Musketeers had five players finish in double-figures. Trevon Bluiett led the way with 15 points. Larry Austin, Jr. and J.P. Macura both came in off the bench to contribute 12 points apiece. Jalen Reynolds and Myles Davis chipped in with 10 points each.
DePaul’s Billy Garrett, Jr. led all scorers with 18 points on seven of 12 shooting.
Tommy Hamilton IV shot six of 12 and added 15 points, before fouling out with 5:35 to play. Myke Henry and Eli Cain contributed 10 points apiece.
NO. NAME YR. POS. HT. WT. HOMETOWN / HIGHSCHOOL
0 Tyrique Jones Fr. Forward 6-9 237 Bloomfield, Conn. / Vermont Academy
3 Quentin Goodin Fr. Guard 6-4 194 Campbellsville, Ky. / Taylor
4 Edmond Sumner So. Guard 6-6 186 Detroit, Mich. / Country Day
5 Trevon Bluiett Jr. Guard 6-6 198 Indianapolis, Ind. / Park Tudor
10 Leighton Schrand Fr. Guard 6-0 155 Villa Hills, Ky. / Holy Cross
11 Malcolm Bernard Sr. Guard 6-6 202 Miami, Fla. / Middleburg
12 Cullen Barr Sr. Forward 6-7 233 Libertyville, Ill. / Carmel Catholic
20 Alex Bergen Sr. Guard 6-5 205 Cincinnati, Ohio / Oak Hills
21 Tim Stainbrook Sr. Forward 6-6 208 Bay Village, Ohio / Lakewood St. Edward
22 Kaiser Gates So. Forward 6-8 228 Alpharetta, Ga. / St. Francis
24 Conor Peterson Fr. Guard/Forward 6-6 180 Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville / Brewster Academy
35 RaShid Gaston Sr. Forward 6-9 239 Warren, Ohio / Warren G. Harding
54 Sean O'Mara Jr. Forward/Center 6-10 244 Glen Ellyn, Ill. / Benet Academy
55 J.P. Macura Jr. Guard 6-5 203 Lakeville, Minn. / Lakeville North