Marquette (19-5, 8-3) completes a quick turnaround as they head down I-94 to take on the DePaul Blue Demons (11-11, 2-8) on Monday night at the Allstate Arena. The Golden Eagles look to rebound after a 17-point loss to Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday.
DePaul is in the midst of another rebuilding season under second-year head coach Oliver Purnell. The Blue Demons have dropped seven of their last eight games, losing most recently at Cincinnati on Saturday. The Bearcats ended the game on a 12-3 run to seal the victory.
The Blue Demons were without Moses Morgan and Jeremiah Kelly for the matchup with Cincinnati. Morgan fainted during practice on Thursday and was awaiting test results before returning to action, while Kelly has missed the last two games with left hip discomfort. There has been no update on their statuses for Monday's game against Marquette.
DePaul has been devastated this year by injuries, even before the season began. Junior Tony Freeland underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in October, and has since decided to transfer. Freshman Montray Clemons ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee during warm-ups before the first practice and is also out for the season. As if the injuries weren't enough, freshman Macari Brooks was ruled academically ineligible and withdrew from school in October.
If Kelly is unable to suit up on Monday, Brandon Young and Worrel Clahar will assume point guard responsibilities. The pair has been distributing the basketball well in Kelly's absence, combining to average 13.5 assist per game in the last two games. However, Young and Clahar have also turned the ball over a combined 20 times in those two games, something they cannot afford against a quality opponent like Marquette.
Freshman Charles McKinney will likely round out the backcourt for Purnell. The Illinois native tied his career high in scoring in Big East play against Cincinnati with eight points. However, McKinney is known more for his ability on the defensive end.
"McKinney's got a chance to be one of the best defenders in the Big East," Purnell told the Daily Herald.
Oliver Purnell has said that forward Jamee Crockett "may be the best athlete on our team." The 6-4 freshman out of Chicago is playing his best basketball of the season lately. Crockett is averaging 14.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in his last four contests, well above his season average of 7.4 and 2.2, respectively.
Sophomore forward Cleveland Melvin is having another fine season for the Blue Demons, averaging 18 points and 6.8 rebounds per game to lead the team in both categories. Last year's Big East Rookie of the Year is coming off an 18-point, 13-rebound performance against Cincinnati on Saturday.
"He's an uncanny scorer," Purnell told the Daily Hearld in November. "He's got unusual athleticism in that he doesn't look like an overpowering athlete, but he's got quickness as well as explosiveness."
Filling out the frontcourt for the Blue Demons is center Krys Faber. The 6-10 senior isn't a big scoring threat, but may cause problems on the boards for an injury-depleted Marquette frontcourt. Faber pulls down 5.4 rebounds per contest.
Monday night's matchup will mark 111th game between the two programs, dating back to the 1917-1918 season. The Golden Eagles have emerged victorious in eight of the last 10 meetings, including 94-64 drubbing at the Bradley Center last season. Tip-off is set for Monday night at 8 PM CST.
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