DePaul Blue Demons (8-18, 1-12) vs. No. 24 Butler Bulldogs (20-6, 9-5) – Sunday, February 19th, 12:30 p.m. Central – Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Television – FOX Sports 1
Radio – WSCR AM 670
Here we go again.
DePaul is set to play its fourth straight top-25 opponent when the Blue Demons visit legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday to square off once again against the 24th ranked Butler Bulldogs. Butler owns sole possession of second place in the Big East with a 9-5 conference record (20-6 overall).
As expected, DePaul dropped all three of its previous games to ranked teams (Xavier, Creighton and most recently a 75-62 loss to Villanova on Monday) in addition to its previous six games. So, DePaul is still out to put an end to its now nine-game losing streak.
However, that will prove to be yeoman's work, as Butler is extremely difficult to beat Hinkle. After blitzing St. John's on Wednesday, 110-86, the Bulldogs are now 12-2 at home this season, Although, prior to the win over the Red Storm, the Bulldogs inexplicably lost their prior two games at home to Georgetown and Creighton.
Against St. John's, Butler could not miss, as the Bulldogs shot 13-26 from three-point range and 57.6 percent overall from the field. Two players (Andrew Chrabascz and Avery Woodson) scored 20 points apiece, while star forward Kelan Martin added 19 points.
All that said, this is still the same Butler team that DePaul took to overtime and lost to by only one point at Allstate back on January 21. DePaul kept it close mostly because the Bulldogs struggled from deep, only connecting on six of 24 attempts (25 percent).
So if DePaul can repeat that effort, it would go a long way toward an upset bid.
But again, it won't be easy, as head coach Chris Holtmann's club is so balanced and diverse on both offense and defense. Butler has seven players averaging between 6.7 points and 15.5 points per game.
Martin, who is a strong candidate for all-Big East First Team honors, paces the Bulldogs with those 15.5 points, while adding a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game. Chrabascz is the other double-digit scorer, as he contributes 11.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game,
Amazingly, DePaul held Chrabascz scoreless in the first meeting. Don't expect a repeat.
For DePaul to win, it basically comes down to a simple equation. The Demons have to get good games from leading scorers Eli Cain and Billy Garrett Jr, as well as get at least one, preferably two, double-digit scoring games from someone out of Tre'Darius McCallum, Brandon Cyrus or Chris Harrison-Docks.
Harrison-Docks is a former Butler Bulldog and you know he'd like to leave an indelible mark. In his last three games, Harrison-Docks is averaging 13.6 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting from three-point range.
Garrett and Cain are mired in painful and prolonged shooting slumps. In the last three games against ranked teams, Cain is averaging 10.6 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting, while Garrett is averaging 8.0 points on 25.9 shooting from the field.
Put simply, for DePaul to have any shot, Cain and Garrett have to be on top of their game. For a frame of reference, Cain and Garrett went for a combined 48 points in the first contest.
Either way, DePaul coach Dave Leitao and company have their work cut out for them to end their losing streak.
The Last Time
On January 21, 2017 at Allstate Arena, the Blue Demons had their hearts ripped out in a 70-69 overtime loss to the 13th ranked Bulldogs.
DePaul put forth one of their better defensive efforts of the year, holding Butler to 35.9 percent from the field, but fell just one possession short in the overtime period.
DePaul had an opportunity to win in regulation, but Eli Cain hit just one of two free throws to tie the game with two seconds remaining.
Neither team shot well from the free throw line and both missed key free throws down the stretch. DePaul shot 58.3 percent from the charity stripe while Butler shot 69.2 percent from the line.
DePaul started the game on a 25-5 run and led the entire first half, but the resilient Bulldogs chipped away to come back within two points at the halfway mark. DePaul led through most of regulation play. Both teams fought hard in what was a defensive battle throughout the second half.
Cain led the Demons with a career-high 32 points on 11 of 18 shooting. Billy Garrett Jr. scored 16 points, while Tre McCallum compiled a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Kethan Savage led the way for Butler with 20 points off the bench. BU freshman Kamar Baldwin added 18 points and Kelan Martin scored 12 in the winning effort for the Bulldogs.
No. Name Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt. Hometown / High School Previous School
0 Avery Woodson G Gr. 6-2 190 Waynesboro, Miss. / Wayne County Memphis
1 Tyler Lewis G R-Sr. 5-11 170 Statesville, N.C. / Oak Hill Academy (Va.) North Carolina State
3 Kamar Baldwin G Fr. 6-0 170 Winder, Ga. / Apalachee
4 Tyler Wideman F Jr. 6-8 240 Schererville, Ind. / Lake Central
10 Trey Pettus G Sr. 6-4 200 St. Louis, Mo. / MICDS
11 Kethan Savage G R-Sr. 6-3 205 Fairfax, Va. / Episcopal George Washington
20 Henry Baddley G/F Fr. 6-4 175 Wadsworth, Ohio / St. Vincent-St. Mary
22 Sean McDermott G/F R-Fr. 6-6 190 Anderson, Ind. / Pendleton Heights
25 Steven Bennett G Sr. 6-3 190 New Castle, Ind. / Chrysler
30 Kelan Martin F Jr. 6-7 220 Louisville, Ky. / Ballard
45 Andrew Chrabascz F Sr. 6-7 230 Portsmouth, R.I. / Cushing Academy
50 Joey Brunk F/C Fr. 6-11 240 Indianapolis, Ind. / Southport
51 Nate Fowler C So. 6-10 240 Cincinnati, Ohio / Moeller
Paul Jorgensen G R-Jr. 6-2 185 New City, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) George Washington