DePaul vs. UIC Game Preview

The Blue Demons head south for their first road trip of the season to the UIC Pavilion.'s Scott Phillips talks with DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright as we preview the cross-town rivalry game.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. UIC Flames - Saturday, November 22nd, 7:00 p.m. – UIC Pavilion – Chicago, Illinois

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Game Preview

The Chicago "Crosstown Classic" is usually reserved for the mid-summer clash between the Cubs and White Sox. But, now that DePaul travels down Halsted to the west side to face UIC, a budding rivalry may be emerging.

After UIC defeated DePaul 85-80 last season at Allstate Arena, the Blue Demons will attempt revenge on the Flames when they face off at the UIC Pavilion Saturday. The matchup at the Pavilion will be the first between UIC and DePaul on the west side of the city, although DePaul last played in the building against Loyola in 1987.

After opening the season at home with a win over Albany, a first in the Jerry Wainwright era, the Blue Demons play a mere five miles from campus in their first road game of the season.

"It's nice to be able to play a quality opponent by only taking a bus ride," said Wainwright. "We have a great deal of respect for them and it should be a good game to get us ready for the Big East."

While UIC and DePaul players occasionally run into each other around town, there seems to be little to no trash talk about the series.

"I'll see some of them from time to time and they never mention the win, but I can tell in the way they walk that they think they're better than us," said junior guard Will Walker. "But this year we're not going to overlook them and be caught off-guard. We need to play scrappy and with more energy."

Energy will definitely be needed to knock off UIC in the Pavilion. Led by 5-11 senior Josh Mayo, the Flames are a potent and uptempo team that can score in bunches in their building. Wainwright had high praise for Mayo.

"We need to try and affect his shooting percentages because he is going to score either way," said Wainwright. "We can't let him get uncontested threes off of loose balls and turnovers. He's going to make some shots over our players and when that happens our guys get deflated and look to the bench."

While Mayo led the Flames in scoring last season, it was the play of sophomore guard Robo Kreps who surprised everyone. The scrappy Kreps led UIC with 19 points while Mayo chipped in with 18 in last season's upset at Allstate Arena.

"We know (Mayo) is going to score, but we also need to watch out for their other guys," said Wainwright. "We need to be aware that they can go big or small and go from there."

Besides the backcourt duo of Mayo and Kreps, UIC has the experience of senior center Scott Vandermeer. Vandermeer, the school's all-time leading shot blocker can give the Demons trouble inside with his improved offense and already solid defense.

"They've really done a great job developing (Vandermeer) into a player," said Wainwright.

The Flames will also look for some scoring from junior college transfer Robert Eppinger and sophomore wing Tori Boyd. Eppinger displays some nice moves inside and plays hard on both ends of the floor, while Boyd contributed 16 points on Wednesday in a win over Northern Iowa. UIC will probably go to a short rotation as they played only six players above ten minutes in their game Wednesday.

The Blue Demons will counter by running the ball and attempting to outwork the Flames.

"I think the faster the game goes, the better we will be," remarked Wainwright. "We may play fast, but shot selection for both teams is going to be a big key."

DePaul also needs to knock down open looks and make their free throws against UIC. Last year, the Demons shot poorly going 38 percent from the field, 31.6% from three-point range and 64.5% from the free throw line, numbers that will need to improve to keep up in an uptempo contest.

The Last Time

On December 16, 2007, the Flames upset DePaul 85-80 at Allstate Arena. UIC guard Robo Kreps heated up the Flames while shooting seven of nine from the field and four of six from behind the arc to lead UIC with a career high 19 points. Mayo finished with 18 while going a perfect six for six from the charity stripe.

Four Flames finished in double figures. Guard Stewart Spencer contributed 16 points. While seven footer Scott Vandermeer chipped in with 13.

The Blue Demons shot 38% from the field and struggled from the free throw line going 64.5% on foul shots.

DePaul had three players in double figures. Freshman Darquavis Tucker led all scorers with a career high 26 points, and was three of five from beyond the arc. Dar tied his career high of 11 rebounds. Tucker also was nine of 10 on free throws.

Senior Draelon Burns scored 21 points. Freshman captain Mac Koshwal contributed with 16 points and snared 11 rebounds for his first career double-double effort.

UIC Roster

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Class Hometown/High School/Last College

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Class Hometown High School Last College

1 Josh Mayo 5-11 175 Guard SR Merrillville, Ind. Merrillville

2 Austin Hood 6-2 190 Guard SO Chicago, Ill. York Kellogg C.C.

3 Robo Kreps 6-0 180 Guard SO Forsyth, Ill. Maroa-Forsyth

14 DeMarkus Isom-Jones 6-5 200 Forward FR Chicago, Ill. Englewood

15 Jimmy Harding 6-5 165 Guard SO Minooka, Ill. Minooka

21 Rob Eppinger 6-8 240 Forward JR Rockford, Ill. Patrick Henry (Minneapolis, Minn.) Highland Community College

22 Kris Harris 6-3 185 Guard JR Chicago, Ill. Westinghouse South Suburban College

23 Zavion Neely 6-1 170 Guard FR Chicago, Ill. Hope

25 Spencer Stewart 6-4 185 Guard JR Edwardsville, Ill. Edwardsville

31 Chris Buchanan 6-3 190 Guard JR Joliet, Ill. Providence Catholic Joliet Junior College

32 Jovan Ignjatovic 6-9 240 Forward JR Belgrade, Serbia Whitney Young

33 Jeremy Buttell 6-7 235 Forward JR Colleyville, Texas Heritage Texas Tech University

35 Jelani Poston 6-7 220 Forward FR Chicago, Ill. Harmony Community School (Cincinnati, Ohio)

41 Scott VanderMeer 7-0 255 Center SR Dyer, Ind. Lake Central Bowling Green State University

42 Tori Boyd 6-5 225 Forward SO Rockford, Ill. Boylan Catholic

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