DePaul vs. Marquette Game Preview

WeAreDePaul.com previews Saturday's Big East conference showdown between the DePaul Blue Demons and the Marquette Golden Eagles at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. We hear from both coaches in this report…

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. Marquette Golden Eagles - Saturday, January 26th, 7:00 p.m. (Central) – Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Television – ESPN-U

Radio – WSCR AM 670 The Score

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Game Preview - DePaul Looking to Cast Out Demons at Bradley Center

A quick glance at the calendar and a check of the sub-zero wind chill factors outside confirm that this is, indeed, the middle of January--not late October. But Jerry Wainwright and his DePaul Blue Demons squad are preparing to venture once again into what can best be described as a house of horrors for the visitors from Chicago in recent years, the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee—home of the 20th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles.

Not since two-time honorable-mention All-American, Quentin Richardson (currently with the NBA's New York Knicks), last donned a DePaul uniform have the Blue Demons defeated Marquette on their home court in a stunning 55-35 thumping on February 16, 2000.

Since then it has been all downhill for the Blue Demons, as they have dropped six straight contests north of the border.

Saturday's game will mark the 105th meeting between the two schools (the most for DePaul against any opponent), with Marquette holding a 61-43 series lead. However, the Blue Demons emerged victorious in the last duel in a 72-67 triumph at Allstate Arena on Valentine's Day last year.

The Golden Eagles' ninth-year head coach, Tom Crean, currently holds a 13-4 overall record versus DePaul.

The Blue Demons are not alone in struggling to steal a win in Marquette's home arena, as the Golden Eagles are sporting a perfect 10-0 record at the Bradley Center this year and have won 12 straight home games dating back to last season.

In fact, Marquette has dominated their opponents at home this season, winning by an average margin of 25.6 points per game while shooting 48.6% overall from the field and 37.4% on 3-pointers.

In contrast, the Gold Eagles have faltered in Big East action away from Milwaukee, going 0-3 in conference road losses at West Virginia and, most recently, at Louisville and UConn in their last two outings.

So it goes without saying that MU will be highly motivated Saturday to hold serve at home and end their two-game mini skid.

As always, the Golden Eagles feature a diversified, guard-oriented offensive attack led by junior point guard, Dominic James, a 5-11 dynamo who has managed to lead the team with 13.8 ppg and 4.2 apg, despite being bothered of late by a sore wrist on his shooting hand.

Jerel McNeal (13.4 ppg) and Wesley Matthews (10.8 ppg) round out Crean's 3-guard starting lineup. McNeal, who hails from Chicago, ranks first in the Big East in steals at 2.35 spg. McNeal has also moved into seventh place on the MU all-time steals list with 180 for his career.

As a team, the Golden Eagles are ranked first in the conference and eighth nationally in steals (10.2 spg).

David Cubillan (7.1 ppg) and the diminutive Maurice Acker (5.1 ppg), a 5-8 transfer from Ball State, bolster MU's backcourt rotation off the bench. Acker has posted an impressive 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in his last four games.

Lazar Hayward, an undersized power forward at 6-6, anchors the frontcourt for the Golden Eagles, scoring at a rate of 12.8 ppg while pulling down a team-best 6.2 rpg. Hayward prefers to do much of his damage from the perimeter, as he leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage at 47.1% (53.1% overall FG percentage).

Dan Fitzgerald, a versatile 6-9 senior forward who averages 5.5 ppg, can also stroke it from the outside at 46.3% from 3-point range.

Ousmane Barro, a 6-10 senior forward, and Dwight Burke, a 6-8, 250-pound banger, do much of the dirty work in the paint for the Golden Eagles. Barro is grabbing 4.8 rpg and averages a team-leading 1.2 blocks per game, while Burke chips in with 3.5 rpg and 57.9% shooting from the field.

DePaul Coach Jerry Wainwright on the Golden Eagles

"They keep coming off the bench with guards," Wainwright told WSCR radio. "They have the youngster Acker, who transferred from Ball State, and Cubillan is a very good shooter. So, you have to put the brakes on your transition game and that means you can't turn the basketball over for points. You've got to be efficient and attack them. One way you stop transition baskets is to score. We have to do a good job getting quality shots with floor balance, a good mix inside and outside. I think we have the speed to match them. I think we can put some guys out there that can really get up and down. It will really come down to who gets quality shots and who makes them."

"They're coming off two really tough losses on the road. This becomes for them the ‘must win'. My message to my guys is ‘why isn't a must win for us also?'"

MU Coach Tom Crean on the Golden Eagles

"I think our team has been relatively inconsistent since Big East play started in the sense of how we play at home versus on the road. So much of that comes down to a defensive mentality and certainly the rebounding mentality that you have to have. We're in the process of trying to get better there and at the same time not lose confidence in the way we're shooting the ball. Because we're missing some shots that at any given time we can make based on the quality of the shot, the fact that it's open and that we're just not knocking them down."

Crean on the Blue Demons

"We're excited to be playing at home. We have a solid crowd once again for the DePaul game. We think they're playing very well. They're fearless on the road. They've energized an already pretty good team with Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal into their lineup. They do an excellent job, so we're excited about that game."

Crean on Dominic James

"I think anytime one of your best players is not 100%, it's going to affect you in some way. It's bothered him since the fall occurred in the Seton Hall game. He's a young man with incredible mental toughness and very good physical strength and he just continues to work his way through it. We monitor it in practice as best we can and at the same time we don't try to put him into a situation that will have him not ready for the next game. Because he wants to be in the game and he's such an integral part of what we do. There's no doubt that over the last weeks that's affected him probably mentally to a degree and certainly physically. But he continues to work through it."

"He's such a stellar defender that he can create so much havoc for us that we need him to get back to doing that at a high level."

The Last Time

The Blue Demons upset the #12 Golden Eagles by a score of 72-67 at Allstate Arena on Valentine's Day 2007. DePaul showed Marquette no love as Sammy Mejia led all scorers with 18 points. Wilson Chandler and Marcus Heard chipped in with 14 points apiece. Marquette was led by Dominic James with 17 points while Jerel McNeal and Dan Fitzgerald had 16 each.

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.

Marquette Roster

No. Name Ht./Wt. Pos. Year Hometown (High School)

0 Scott Christopherson 6-3/200 G FR LaCrosse, Wis. (Aquinas)

1 Dominic James 5-11/185 G JR Richmond, Ind. (Richmond)

2 Maurice Acker 5-8/165 G RS SO Hazel Crest, Ill. (Hillcrest)

4 Patrick Hazel 6-7/220 F FR Queens, N.Y. (Blair Academy)

5 Dan Fitzgerald 6-9/220 F SR St. Paul, Minn. (St. Thomas Academy)

10 David Cubillan 6-0/175 G SO Maracaibo, Venezuela (St. Benedict's (N.J.))

12 Dwight Burke 6-8/250 F JR Brooklyn, N.Y. (St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.))

21 Lawrence Blackledge 6-8/185 F SR Carbondale, Ill. (Carbondale)

22 Jerel McNeal 6-3/200 G JR Chicago, Ill. (Hillcrest)

23 Wesley Matthews 6-5/215 G JR Madison, Wis. (Memorial)

32 Lazar Hayward 6-6/225 F SO Buffalo, N.Y. (Notre Dame Prep (Mass.))

33 Trevor Mbakwe 6-7/240 F FR St. Paul, Minn. (St. Bernard's)

41 Ousmane Barro 6-10/235 F SR Dakar, Senegal (Chicago Julian)

42 Tommy Brice 5-11/174 G SR Bloomingdale, Ill. (Lake Park)

45 Robert Frozena 6-1/165 G FR Sherwood, Wis. (St. Mary Central)


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