DePaul vs. Providence Game Preview previews Saturday's Big East showdown between the DePaul Blue Demons and the Providence Friars at Allstate Arena

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. Providence Friars - Saturday, January 5th, 7:00 p.m. (Central) – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Television – ESPN Classic

Radio – WSCR AM 670

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Game Preview

We're going streaking! DePaul has been playing some streaky ball lately. After their 84-76 win over 17th ranked Villanova on Thursday night, DePaul has now won three in a row. Prior to that, DePaul was mired in a five game losing streak that dampened the outlook on the season.

But with a fresh start comes another opportunity for the momentum to keep moving as DePaul hosts Providence at Allstate Arena for a key Big East match-up for both teams.

DePaul, now 5-7 (1-0 in BE play), is riding high in the confidence department with this three game winning streak and they entered Big East play with a fresh approach.

"We got a fresh start. It's a new season for us so we're trying to look like a whole new team," DePaul senior guard Cliff Clinkscales said after the win against Villanova.. "We aren't worried about our record. We have 17 games to go now so anything can happen. You are never out of it. You judge a season at the end of the season."

DePaul has a golden opportunity to strike wile the iron is hot and dispose of a Providence team that is struggling after losing on Thursday to Marquette by a score of 96-67 to drop their record to 9-4.

Providence, like many other Big East teams, has been hit hard by the injury bug and one of their main contributors, if not the biggest, Sharaud Curry, is not likely to play in the DePaul game with a broken foot. Also hurting is that the Friars will be without backup sophomore point guard Dwain Williams.

Providence is not a team lacking in talent though. When fully healthy the Friars are dangerous. They were a trendy pick to be a sleeper in the Big East. They have beaten some good programs this year including Arkansas, Florida State, Temple and Boston College.

With limited guard play all year, the Friars have depended an awful lot on their wing players. They are led by 6-5 junior guard Weyinmi Efejuku (12.8 ppg). Providence Head Coach Tim Welsh also gets double figure efforts from three other players ( 6-1 junior guard Jeff Xavier-12.5 ppg, 6-4 sophomore guard Brian McKenzie-12ppg, and 6-8 forward Geoff McDermott-11.2).

Providence plays balanced basketball and are an athletic bunch. They can shoot the rock too with Xavier (a transfer from Manhattan) and McKenzie being dead-eye sharpshooters. McKenzie is second in the Big East with a 48.1 clip from beyond the three-point line and Xavier at 41.2 percent on 3 pt attempts (7th in the BE). They must be contained. DePaul did a good job bottling up Villanova's sensational scorer Scottie Reynolds and must approach Xavier and McKenzie the same way.

With Curry out, the Friars are calling on McDermott for a lot of productivity. He is versatile and very difficult to match up with. He can play inside or out. Also providing a spark up front is the return of underrated 6-11 junior center Randall Hanke. He was a medical redshirt last year and is now catching up to speed and is a force down low (7.4 ppg).

How will Providence do in the face of adversity with injuries severely curtailing their point guard play? Plus, Providence must travel on a short turnaround and try to deal with a humbling loss to Marquette. If you're a DePaul fan you have to think it is ripe for the taking.

DePaul must come out aggressive and not be afraid of imposing their will. After a devastating non-conference portion of their schedule that left the Blue Demons in a stupor, DePaul is determined to enter Big East play a different team. With a win on Thursday night, it looks like the Demons are starting to believe in each other and chemistry is starting to formulate.

Due to some injuries, DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright, basically played a six man rotation on Thursday night with Draelon Burns, Cliff Clinkscales, Karron Clarke, Mac Koshwal, Wesley Green, and Will Walker getting the lions share of minutes.

Second leading scorer Darquavis Tucker (12.6 ppg) could be limited in play with a sprained ankle. Also junior Jabari Currie is nursing a pinched nerve. Both Currie and Tucker saw improvement on Friday.

DePaul, playing three homes games to open the Big East season, has a great chance to seize the day and turnaround, what has been to date, a disappointing season. It's all one game at a time now and now that it is 2008, DePaul must think they are 1-0 and that they're season is just beginning.

Notes: Blue Demons freshman point guard Michael Bizoukas is not expected to play due to illness. Bizoukas had been recovering from a bout with mononucleoisis.

Former Blue Demon Stephen Howard and former Friar Dickie Simpkins will provide commentary on ESPN Classic. Eric Collins is the play-by-play man.

The Last Time

Due to an unbalanced Big East schedule the Blue Demons and Friars did not face one another in the 2006-07 season. Yet the two teams played twice during the 2005-06 season. The last time the schools met, Providence squeaked out a 61-60 victory over DePaul at Allstate Arena on February 7, 2006. Friars reserve Herbert hill led all scorers with 20 points while Donnie McGrath contributed 17. DePaul had three in double figures. Sammy Mejia led the way with 17 for the Blue Demons. Karron Clarke scored 11 points which all came in the first half. Senior center Marlon Brumfield contributed with 10 points.

Providence Roster

NO NAME Yr Ht Wt Position Hometown/High School

0 Alex Kellogg FR 6-7 225 Forward Columbus, Ohio/DeSales High School

1 Jeff Xavier JR 6-1 185 Guard Pawtucket, R.I./St. Raphael Academy

2 Marshon Brooks FR 6-5 190 Guard/Forward Stone Mountain, Ga./Tucker High School

4 Sharaud Curry JR 5-10 170 Guard Gainesville, Ga./Wheeler High School

5 Dwain Williams SO 6-0 170 Guard San Diego, Calif./Vista Murrieta High School

11 Geoff McDermott JR 6-8 235 Forward/Guard New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle High School

12 Luke Burchett SO 6-0 185 Guard Western Springs, Ill./Fenwick High School

13 Weyinmi Efejuku JR 6-5 210 Guard Fresh Meadows, N.Y./Brewster Academy

15 Jamine Peterson FR 6-6 225 Forward Brooklyn, N.Y./Notre Dame Prep.

21 Chris Baudinet JR 6-5 210 Forward Watertown, Conn./Taft School

23 Brian McKenzie SO 6-4 205 Guard Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian High School

32 Randall Hanke JR 6-11 240 Forward/Center New York, N.Y./Trinity-Pawling School

33 Charles Burch SR 6-7 225 Forward Dorchester, Mass./Tabor Academy

34 Jonathan Kale JR 6-8 245 Forward Mattapan, Mass./St. Andrew's School

55 Ray Hall SO 6-11 265 Center Denver, Colo./J.K. Mullen High School

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