DePaul vs. #8 Marquette Game Preview

The DePaul Blue Demons (8-14, 0-9) take on the eighth ranked Marquette Golden Eagles (19-2, 8-0) at Allstate Arena on Tuesday night. In this report, John Templon catches up with DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright and guard Will Walker before the rivalry game.

Key Information

DePaul Blue Demons vs. #8 Marquette Golden Eagles – Tuesday, February 3rd, 8:00 p.m. Central

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Game Preview

DePaul (8-14, 0-9) gets its second chance at the team leading the Big East when Marquette (19-2, 8-0) comes to Allstate Arena on Tuesday.

In the teams' first meeting on Jan. 24 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, the Blue Demons hung tough, and actually outscored the Golden Eagles during the second half, on the way to a 79-70 defeat. The quick turnaround means that the two teams are already well versed in their opponent, even on a short week.

"We still have a feel of what they do in our mind," said junior guard Will Walker. "It's not that hard to really do walkthroughs and things like that when you already know a lot of their plays. We just try to carry over all the practices from two weeks ago to now."

Head coach Jerry Wainwright said that the Golden Eagles might benefit even more from the quick turnaround because they have a senior-laden squad. "They are probably able to change more than we are because of their experience," Wainwright said. "But you don't have the film and scouting. It is fresh in your mind. … Without question it helps."

DePaul can concentrate on what it did right during the second half of that first meeting when it outscored Marquette 36-31, including controlling transition and rebounding better.

The transition game is something the Blue Demons have to be wary of against Marquette. The Golden Eagles play quickly because of the wealth of talent in their backcourt, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James all look to push the ball up the court. That makes Marquette one of the fastest teams in the country end-to-end.

"They are a great transition team from one through five. They get back real quick," Walker said. "You just try not to take bad shots and try not to let them get steals in our passing lanes. We'll take a shot-clock violation before one of those turnovers."

For DePaul, cutting down on turnovers means improving ball movement and taking good shots. Wainwright was impressed with how the offense played during the first game against Marquette. "I thought it was by far our best offensive game in the league," he said. "I thought we did an excellent job of making the extra pass."

That extra pass is the key for DePaul, which has struggled this season in the assist column. The Blue Demons rank 310th in NCAA Division I in assists per field goals made at 47.1 percent. According to Wainwright, when that number starts to tick upwards is when the DePaul offense will really be clicking.

"I think the most important thing for us is the assists column," Wainwright said. "I think if you see a game where we have double-figures in assists, that will be our chance. If we can do that over a period of time, that will lead to winning. What that means is that then we're running our offense and we have movement."

The other key for the Blue Demons will be getting Mac Koshwal involved early. Koshwal struggled a bit against Rutgers and Connecticut, including scoring just six points against the Huskies. Against Marquette on Jan. 24, Koshwal scored 14 points and grabbed nine points. It is imperative that the Blue Demons get their sophomore post presence involved early, even if it takes some innovative thinking from Koshwal.

"I think he has to expand his game no matter what the cost. He may make some moves that are uncomfortable with him, but he's got to continue to build his game. He's got to try some different things," Wainwright said. "I think when you're young. If you can make that first shot, I think it always helps you. But then I think we should all agree that you should take a shot that's makeable."

Other notes:

Wainwright on Marquette's Jerel McNeal: "Jerel McNeal goes from play-to-play better than any player in our league."

Wainwright on being outrebounded, 38-24, by the smaller Golden Eagles in the first matchup: "They rebounded with speed. Lazar Hayward got every [one of his six offensive] rebounds on missed free throws. He's the type of rebounder that is really dangerous in this game. The Wes Matthews speed rebounder. Those guys go now, they go to the boards every time."

Walker on Koshwal: "We just try to keep him positive and not let it get to him. Hopefully he'll bounce back and have another good game against Marquette."

Wainwright on Walker's improved play of late: "From the conference on, I think he has been healthy. His experience really shows. He knows how to get open and he's playing within himself. What might shift now is that he might be the top guy on the opposing team's scouting report."

John Templon is the photographer and writer of the Chicago College Basketball blog. John is a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Chicago College Basketball Blog

The Last Time

Just 10 days ago, the Blue Demons trekked to Milwaukee to lose to the Golden Eagles 79-70. Jerel McNeal scored 21 points and grabbed six steals. Wesley Matthews contributed 20 and Lazar Hayward added 16 points and 17 rebounds. MU also got 10 points from Dwight Burke. Dominic James added eight points and dished out nine assists.

Dar Tucker scored 18 points for DePaul, while Will Walker chipped in with 17 and Mac Koshwal scored 14.

Marquette Roster

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

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

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

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

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

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

21 Joseph Fulce 6-7/205 F SO Plano, Texas (Plano)

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

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

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

33 Jimmy Butler 6-6/215 G SO Tomball, Texas (Tomball)

42 Chris Otule 6-10/245 C FR Richmond, Texas (Ft. Bend Bush)

45 Robert Frozena 6-1/180 G SO Sherwood, Wis. (St. Mary Central)

55 Liam McMorrow 7-0/260 C SO Toronto, Ontario (West Hill Collegiate HS)

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