DePaul Blue Demons vs. #4 Pittsburgh Panthers – Saturday, February 21st, 6:00 p.m. Central
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DePaul (8-18 overall, 0-13 in the Big East), in the midst of a 13 game losing streak, is trying to avert history in trying to avoid losing another game, which would set a mark for the most consecutive losses in the program's history in a season at 14. Well, consider this a case of bad timing. DePaul has the unenviable, if not impossible task of trying to win against a Pittsburgh team on the road this Saturday night, a team one can say is arguably the best team in the country.
You see, Pittsburgh (24-2 overall, 12-2 in the Big East) is currently ranked #4 in both polls, but are fresh off a very impressive road win (76-68) on Monday night over the currently ranked #1 team on the country, Connecticut. Meanwhile, DePaul is coming off its worst loss in program history when they lost at Louisville 99-54.
At this point the Pittsburgh Panthers and the DePaul Blue Demons are on the opposite sides of the College Basketball spectrum.
In Monday's highly anticipated match-up with Connecticut, the Panthers went into Hartford and out-muscled a team you just don't out-muscle. Then again, maybe you don't know who DeJuan Blair is. In easy terms: Blair=Beast. In Monday's win against the Huskies, Blair was seemingly a man among boys when he dropped 22 points and ripped down 23 rebounds. How can DePaul match up with that? Well the short answer is they can't. This is the second time the Demons will face the Panthers this season, and as you can imagine it was an easy win (92-69) for the Panthers when the teams squared off in Rosemont on February 7. That day, Blair(15.7 ppg and 12.8 rpg) was his usually beast-like self leading the way with 32 points and 14 rebounds.
Blair with his recent play is making quite a bid for Big East Player of the Year. He's got himself some stiff competition in Marquette's Jerel McNeal, Uconn's Hasheem Thabeet, Notre Dames Luke Harangody and many others including two of his own teammates.
While Blair wrecks havoc down low, most of the scoring comes from his teammates.
Sam Young who scored a game-high 25 points in Monday's win over Connecticut is leading the team in scoring with 18.2 ppg. He is hard to contain as he can take his defender to the rim just as easily as he can take them outside and pop a long range jumper.
While Blair and Young receive plenty of deserved accolades, the true heart and soul of the team is senior point guard Levance Fields. Fields, who leads the Big East in assists (7.5 apg), is the table setter for the Panthers and is arguably one of the best pure point guards in America. Fields is very unselfish and loves to set up his teammates. Never was that more evident when Fields had a career high 18 assists in Pitt's previous win over DePaul.
Pittsburgh has great balance, depth and are coached by perhaps one of the most underrated coaches in the country in Jamie Dixon.
While DePaul will try all in their will to end this emotionally and physically taxing losing streak, the timing is not right as Pittsburgh is flexing its muscle and letting everyone know they are a legitimate threat to win it all in Detroit come April.
In every way shape or form this is a classic mismatch. It may get ugly and by the time it's done, DePaul will likely be preparing on how to avoid losing its 15th straight game.
The Last Time
Just two weeks ago, the Blue Demons fell fell 92-69 to the then sixth ranked Panthers at Allstate Arena. Pitt big man DeJuan Blair recorded a double-double of 14 rebounds and a career-high 32 points to lead all scorers. Pitt had four players in double-figures as senior forward Sam Young contributed with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. While Levance Fields also had a double-double of 13 points and a career-high16 assists. Brad Wannamaker chipped in with 13 points off the bench on five of six from the field.
Sophomores Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal led DePaul with 18 points apiece. Junior guard Will Walker also reached double-figures with 11 points.
Freshman big man Kene Obi had a breakout game scoring a career high nine points.
# NAME HT/WT POS YR HOMETOWN/LAST SCHOOL
1 Travon Woodall 5-11/190 Guard FR Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Anthony's (N.J.)
2 Levance Fields 5-10/190 Guard SR Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian H.S.
3 Jermaine Dixon 6-3/195 Guard JR Baltimore, Md./Tallahassee J.C. (Fla.)
5 Tyrell Biggs 6-8/250 Forward SR Nanuet, N.Y./Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)
11 Gilbert Brown 6-6/200 Guard/Forward RS SO Harrisburg, Pa./South Kent Prep (Conn.)
12 Ashton Gibbs 6-2/190 Guard FR Scotch Plains, N.J./Seton Hall Prep
14 Sean Brown 6-4/215 Forward SR Pittsburgh, Pa./Canon McMillan
21 Ryan Tiesi 6-2/185 Guard SO Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny H.S.
22 Brad Wanamaker 6-4/205 Guard SO Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic H.S.
23 Sam Young 6-6/220 Forward SR Clinton, Md./Hargrave Military Academy
24 Tim Frye 6-4/200 Guard SO Mars, Pa./Mars H.S.
25 Dwight Miller 6-8/230 Forward FR Nassau, Bahamas/St. Pius X H.S. (Houston, Texas)
35 Nasir Robinson 6-5/220 Forward FR Chester, Pa./Chester H.S.
45 DeJuan Blair 6-7/265 Forward SO Pittsburgh, Pa./Schenley H.S.
52 Gary McGhee 6-10/250 Center SO Anderson, Ind./Highland Senior H.S.
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