DePaul Blue Demons vs. Connecticut Huskies – Saturday, February 6th, 7:00 p.m. Central – Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT
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For the first time in their brief history in the Big East, DePaul (8-14, 1-9 in Big East) will be taking on the Connecticut Huskies in their on-campus gym, the Gampel Pavilion, on Saturday night in a matchup of two struggling Big East teams. The last time DePaul played at Connecticut they played at the XL Center in Hartford in a 65-60 loss two years ago.
The Huskies are a formidable and talented squad but are reeling right now as they have dropped their last three games. This losing streak comes directly after the team beat the then #1 ranked Texas Longhorns on January 23rd. Compounding matters is the fact that the Huskies are missing their general as Head Coach Jim Calhoun has taken a medical leave of absence and has handed the reigns over to Associate Head Coach George Blaney. Calhoun is expected to miss Saturday's game but is close to returning. Blaney is doing his best in Calhoun's absence and is trying to keep his kids on track, but he knows the importance Calhoun has on the sidelines.
"It's not that we're doing a whole lot of different things than we had been doing," said Blaney. "I do think that we miss Coach Calhoun greatly. I think that the players miss him greatly. I think they're used to playing for him. We had two great games when he first went out against St. John's and Texas. We played well in the other games, we just haven't won them. Hopefully he'll be back short and hopefully for as long as he's out I can make them play as well as they can possibly play."
Currently the Huskies are in unfamiliar territory in the Big East standings sitting in 12th place with a 3-6 record (13-9 overall). This has put the team in some serious bubble trouble. Now DePaul has to go into Connecticut with the unenviable task of trying to beat a team in desperate need of one. Well, one could argue that DePaul is desperate need of a win too. The Blue Demons only have one Big East win, when they beat Marquette on January 20th 51-50, and overall have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
Connecticut is most recently coming off an 82-69 loss at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals on Monday night. The bad news for the Demons is that the Huskies will have had five days to prepare for DePaul. Making matters worse is the fact that the Demons are in the middle of a three-game road swing which began with an 80-69 setback at Marquette on Wednesday night. The road has been unkind to say the least for the Demons. With the loss at Marquette, DePaul has not won a true road game all year and have lost their last 18 true road games dating back to last season.
For DePaul to have a shot they have to match the intensity Connecticut is sure to bring. The Huskies are a long and active team that relies on its athletes to make plays. They have a talented backcourt led by Jerome Dyson's all around game. Dyson leads the team in scoring with 19 ppg, while also chipping in 4.7 assists and 4.5 rpg. He is joined in the backcourt with the speedy Kemba Walker (13.5 ppg and a team high 6 apg).
The Huskies also feature two other players in double-figures with Stanley Robinson (16.5 ppg) and Gavin Edwards (10.8 ppg) patrolling the middle. While the Huskies have a good core of players, they are not that deep of a team and rely mostly on their starters. With DePaul getting close to being 100 percent healthy, perhaps the Demons will try to wear them down with depth.
In any event, this should be another grind-it-out game with tempo being the key as DePaul interim coach Tracy Webster alluded to in the Big East coaches conference call yesterday.
"They're a very big basketball team with two really good guards that create problems for us and for a lot of teams," explained Webster. "We have to do a really good job of controlling the tempo, because they're really good at running the basketball."
DePaul's Devin Hill will be back in the Constitution State on Saturday for a homecoming. The sophomore forward is from Stamford, Connecticut and prepped at St. Lukes in New Canaan, Connecticut. Hill was also an AAU teammate of the Huskies' Kemba Walker.
The Last Time
In January, 2009, the Huskies came into Allstate Arena ranked second in the nation and walked away with a 71-49 victory.
Four UConn players reached double-figures. Guard Jerome Dyson scored 18 points to lead the Huskies as he broke the 1,000 point scoring plateau for his career. Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price scored 12 points apiece, while big man Hasheem Thabeet chipped in with 11 points
For Adrien it was his 43rd career double-double as he grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Huskies held DePaul's Mac Koshwal to just six points on three of 10 shooting and five rebounds. The Demons shot 24% from the field in the second half after shooting 50% in the first half.
Dar Tucker led all scorers with 20 points and shot eight of 18 from the field. Will Walker also reached double-figures for DePaul with 12 points on six of 15 shooting.
NO NAME HT/WT POSITION YR/CLASS HOMETOWN
2 Donnell Beverly 6-4/190 Guard JR Hawthorne, Calif.
4 Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 6-7/210 Forward FR Dorchester, Mass.
5 Ater Majok 6-11/233 Forward FR Sydney, Australia
11 Jerome Dyson 6-4/190 Guard SR Potomac, Md.
13 Jamaal Trice 6-5/220 Guard FR Los Angeles, Calif.
15 Kemba Walker 6-1/172 Guard SO Bronx, N.Y.
21 Stanley Robinson 6-9/220 Forward SR Birmingham, Ala.
22 Alex Hornat 6-5/205 Forward SR South Windsor, Conn.
24 Darius Smith 6-1/168 Guard FR Chicago, Ill.
32 Jonathan Mandeldove 7-0/240 Center SR Stone Mountain, Ga.
33 Gavin Edwards 6-10/230 Forward SR Gilbert, Ariz.
34 Alex Oriakhi 6-9/240 Forward/Center FR Lowell, Mass.
35 Charles Okwandu 7-0/255 Center JR Lagos, Nigeria
55 Kyle Bailey 6-3/170 Guard JR Lancaster, N.H.
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