DePaul Blue Demons vs. Florida International – Saturday, December 31st, Noon CST – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
There is no television for this game.
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Golden Panthers Hungry for a Win
The Golden Panthers of Florida International University will limp into Allstate Arena for their New Year's Eve tilt against the DePaul Blue Demons with a 3-8 record and riding a six-game losing streak. As the host school, the Golden Panthers most recently dropped both games of the FIU Holiday Classic with back-to-back losses on Tuesday and Wednesday to St. Bonaventure and Cal State Fullerton, respectively.
In fact, not counting the win against D-II
Florida Tech on December 1st, the Golden Panthers of the Sun Belt Conference, have only two wins over Division I opponents all season, including a 69-64 overtime win at home against fellow Big East newcomer, South Florida. FIU's other D-I triumph came at home against Central Connecticut State during the first week of the season.
But FIU, located in Miami, has played teams tough, as three of their eleven contests have been decided in overtime (with one being a loss at La Salle last week while the other was the aforementioned defeat at the hands of St. Bonaventure earlier this week).
The Golden Pathers are led by second-year head coach, Sergio Rouco, who improved FIU's win total from five games the year before he took over the program to 13 wins last season. However, the progress of last year has come to a screeching halt so far this season.
Ivan Almonte, a 6-6 senior forward from the Dominican Republic by way of Southeastern (Iowa) CC, leads FIU in scoring (14.7 ppg), rebounding (11.7 rpg), and assists (3.2 apg). In recognition of his talents, Almonte was named to the preseason Sun Belt all-conference first team.
On the strength of Almonte as well as third-team preseason all-conference nominee, Ismael N'Diaye, also a 6-6 senior forward, the Golden Panthers were picked by league coaches to finish second in the East Division of the Sun Belt behind Western Kentucky. However, N'Diaye's statistics have been less than stellar thus far this season, as he has averaged a meager 6.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg.
As a matter of fact, no other Golden Panthers player besides Almonte averages double figures in scoring. Johwen Villegas, a 6-4 junior guard is second on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg, just slightly ahead of 6-0 freshman guard, Elvis Lora, who averages 9.2 ppg.
On paper, this may look like a sure-fire win for DePaul (6-4), coming off of a highly-successful four-game road trip, which included upset wins over Dayton, Wake Forest, and Cal. However, the Golden Panthers, desperate for a much-needed victory, could give the Blue Demons more than they bargained for if they take this team too lightly after a 10 day long Christmas layoff.
Note: The DePaul men's basketball team will sign autographs for fans after the game. Bring the kids out for a good time on New Year's Eve.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Class Hometown Previous School
0 Chris Fuller G 6-5 So. Las Vegas, NV Dixie State College (Utah)
1 Joey Cantens G 6-0 Fr. Miami, FL Miami Christian
3 John Quintana G 6-0 200 Brooklyn, NY St. Francis College (NY)
4 Facundo Giorgi F 6-8 Jr. Sunchales, Argentina Southeastern CC (IA)
5 Elvis Lora G 6-0 Fr. Bronx, NY Laurinburg Prep (NC)
10 Jayce Lewis G 5-9 Sr. Houston, TX Blin College
11 Alan Guyton G 6-0 Jr. Austin, TX Lon Morris College
12 Cesar Chávez-Jacobo G 6-5 So. Santo Domingo, DR Our Savior New American
15 Kenny Simms C 6-8 So. Siclerville, NJ Jackson Memorial
20 Johwen Villegas G 6-4 Jr. Guaynab, PR Southeastern CC (IA)
21 Ismael N'Diaye F 6-6 Sr. Abidjan, Ivory Coast LA City College
22 Buchi Awaji G 6-3 Fr. Los Angeles, CA Loyola
24 Ivan Almonte F 6-6 Sr. Santo Domingo, DR Southeastern CC (IA)
32 Ismaila Njie C 6-9 Fr. Banjul, Gambia Laurinburg Prep (NC)
34 Marlon Bright F 6-5 Fr. Martin, TN Westview
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