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January 12, 2012
DePaul Blue Demons(10-6, 1-3 Big East, 2-2 Road)
No. 14 Louisville Cardinals(13-4, 1-3 Big East, 11-2 Home)
When: Saturday Jan. 14, 2012 at 3 p.m. central time
Where: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
TV: The U Too (Big East Network)
Online Streaming: ESPN3.com
Radio: WSCR AM 670
Sophomore Forward Cleveland Melvin (6-foot-8, 208 pounds)
31.7 MPG, 18.9 PPG, 6.4 REB, 44.8 FG%, 1.1 BLK
Sophomore Guard Brandon Young (6-foot-3, 193 pounds)
30.7 MPG, 17.1 PPG, 5.1 AST, 49.7 FG%, 2 STL
Senior Wing Kyle Kuric (6-foot-4, 195 pounds)
36.9 MPG, 13 PPG, 31 Three-pointers made, 4.9 RPG
Sophomore Center Gorgui Dieng (6-foot-11, 235 pounds)
29.9 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 54.9 FG%, 9 RPG, 3.2 BLK
After beginning the season 2-0 on the road with wins against in-state opponents Loyola and Northern Illinois, the road outside of Illinois has been less kind for DePaul. Tuesday night's 94-73 loss against No. 24 Seton Hall was the second consecutive double-digit defeat on DePaul's three-game road trip.
DePaul struggled to stay in the game and faced double-digit deficits throughout. The defensive issues that have been prevalent for the season remained as Seton Hall established dominance on the offensive end.
Seton Hall shot an impressive 58.7 percent from the field. Their hot shooting was the same on the perimeter as they connected on 11-21 attempts from three-point range. Starters Jordan Theodore, Fuquan Edwin and Aaron Cosby combined to go 10-16 from behind the arc.
DePaul's offense had its share of issues as well. DePaul had 15 turnovers for the game to go along with only 9 assists. They shot 34.3 percent overall from the field.
The sophomore duo of Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young combined for 30 points, but had to attempt 30 shots to get to that mark. Junior guard Worrel Clahar contributed a season-high 14 points in 23 minutes of action off the bench.
For the third time in conference play DePaul will face a team that is coming off a bad loss or bad stretch of games. The No. 14 Louisville Cardinals have lost four out of five games and now have a few days to think about what they can do better in Saturday's game after a very tough 90-59 road defeat to Providence Tuesday night.
After dropping a 67-65 home contest to Notre Dame over the weekend, an 0-4 Providence team appeared to be an opportunity to get back on track. This was far from the case as Providence jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead and did not stop piling on in the second half as the lead swelled to 31 points with under 10 minutes to play.
Providence gained significant advantages in many of the statistical categories. Providence shot 52.8 percent for the game compared to Louisville's 37.9. Providence did not allow Louisville to make up for those misses on the offensive glass as they gained a 40-25 on the boards.
Senior guard Chris Smith led Louisville with 16 points.
Keys to a DePaul Victory
The primary key to DePaul having a chance for a win is defense. Should not be surprising at this point considering how poorly DePaul has defended in conference play.
Through four games DePaul has allowed Big East opponents to score 87.2 points per game, shoot 60.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three-point range. Those numbers are sure to make any head coach pull their hair out. It may be a good thing that head coach Oliver Purnell prefers a bald look.
Louisville is a good offensive team that has options inside and out. They are a high-octane team that is difficult to play against when they speed up their game and create opportunities from their zone defense and press.
While Kuric is still adjusting to his role as the primary scorer on the team and has seen his outside shooting percentage slip from last year's 44.9 percent clip, he is a scoring threat each time he touches the ball. DePaul has to get a body on him each time down the floor because his shooting can go a long way in determining how Louisville's offense runs.
Dieng poses as a tough inside threat for DePaul. He is not a dominant offensive player by any means, but shoots at a high percentage and can be a big factor on the offensive glass. With Donnavan Kirk still battling injury issues, frontcourt players such as senior center Krys Faber and freshman center Derrell Robertson Jr. need to be in a consistent defensive position to not allow Dieng to get too deep in the post.
Not allowing junior guard Peyton Siva to get in the open floor and get penetration to the basket is easier said than done. Siva is a playmaking guard that has not shot well from the field this season, but is very fast and leads the team in assists with 5.6 per game.
2. Get off to a strong start
Louisville has lost two conference home games already, but are traditionally a very tough team to play at home. They play before a packed arena every game at their second year home facility. After enduring a loss as they did Tuesday, expect an inspired effort from the start of the game.
Louisville is the type of team that can go through various stretches in a game where they turn up the pressure on defense and go on big runs. Holding opponents to an average of 36.6 percent from the field per game, good for fifth in the nation as of Tuesday, is a significant reason why their defense can get them going.
DePaul has to find a way to not fall behind too much too early. Facing a 10-0 deficit Sunday against Villanova negatively affected DePaul as they were not able to get a lead the rest of the game.
DePaul has to play their game and not get rattled. They need an efficient offense with strong ball movement early to get points. This will allow them to get set up in their press and potentially throw Louisville off what they want to do early on.
3. More consistent scoring options and ball movement
A key throughout this season was for other players to step in support of Melvin and Young. At times there has been ample support, but not as much of late.
Players such as sophomore forward Moses Morgan and senior guard Jeremiah Kelly need to produce offensively at a more consistent rate. Both players have the long-range shooting ability to give DePaul more balance on offense.
These two players will certainly be needed Saturday as Louisville is likely to key in on limiting Melvin and Young's offense. Louisville's zone is aggressive and can create issues similar to what Syracuse did to DePaul on New Year's Day. Louisville can limit a lot of easy chances in the halfcourt.
DePaul has to move the ball well and be patient against the zone. Finding a way for guards to get penetration and to get Melvin the ball near the free throw line could open the offense up.