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January 20, 2012
South Florida Bulls(11-8, 4-2 Big East, 1-5 Away)
at DePaul Blue Demons(10-8, 1-5 Big East, 6-4 Home)
When: Sunday Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. central time
Where: The Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
Online Streaming: ESPN3.com
Radio: WSCR AM 670
Sophomore Forward Cleveland Melvin (6-foot-8, 205 pounds)
31.2 MPG, 18 PPG, 44.2 FG%, 6.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Sophomore Guard Brandon Young (6-foot-3, 193 pounds)
30.3 MPG, 16.8 PPG, 46.6 FG%, 4.5 APG, 1.7 SPG
Senior Forward Augustus Gilchrist (6-foot-10, 235 pounds)
28.7 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 36.6 FG%, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Junior Forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (6-foot-8, 243 pounds)
26 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 48.4 FG%, 6.7 RPG
Sophomore Forward Victor Rudd (6-foot-7, 221 pounds)
27.5 MPG, 9.1 PPG, 32.5 3 FG%, 3.8 RPG
If only DePaul could turn those strong stretches of basketball during games into more of a complete 40-minute effort. DePaul dropped their fourth consecutive contest Tuesday night in an 83-75 loss to the No. 11 Georgetown Hoyas.
DePaul was able to stay close with the talented Hoya team at various points of the game, including getting to within two points early in the second half, but could not sustain their strong play. Georgetown was helped greatly by a huge game from senior guard Jason Clark. For the game, he scored 31 points on a scorching 11-14 from the field, which included 5 made three-point baskets.
DePaul lost significantly once again in the rebounding battle as Georgetown held a 47-25 advantage. Georgetown used that wide margin to help control the inside and make up for a high turnover rate.
DePaul was able to throw Georgetown off their game a bit by forcing the Hoyas to turn over the ball a season-high 18 times. DePaul used that to get their offense going and in more of a rhythm than in Saturday's loss against Louisville.
The sophomore trio of Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young and Moses Morgan led the DePaul offense with a combined 52 points. Melvin rebounded nicely from a poor game against Louisville to register 19 points and 6 rebounds. In only 21 minutes off the bench, Morgan delivered 17 points and made 5-8 from beyond the arc.
The game also represented a possible changing of the guard in the DePaul rotation. Junior guard Worrel Clahar made the first start of his career in the backcourt and registered 7 points, 5 assists and 4 steals in 27 minutes.
Starting center Krys Faber played only 7 minutes for the night. Sophomore big man Donnavan Kirk and freshman Derrell Robertson Jr. combined for 31 minutes of action in the frontcourt and provided some spurts of solid play.
In a rare occurrence for a normally lower-tier Big East program, South Florida has actually turned around their season once conference play began. They have won four out of five games after losing a close contest to UConn to open up Big East play.
South Florida took care of a struggling St. John's team in a 64-49 home victory. South Florida gained a double-digit lead quickly into the second half and maintained it for the rest of the game. Wednesday's contest represented the fourth consecutive game where the defensively strong Bulls held an opponent to 60 points or fewer.
Sophomore forward Victor Rudd, in his first season with the team after transferring from Arizona State, recorded his second highest scoring output of the season with 24 points. He connected on 5-7 from three-point range and grabbed 7 rebounds as well.
Junior guard Jawanza Poland scored 16 points off the bench. The team's second leading scorer from last season missed the first month of the season, but has scored in double-digits in three of the past four games.
Keys to a DePaul Victory
1. Do not make a less-than stellar offense look stellar
South Florida is by no means a high-octane offensive team. As of Thursday, their scoring offense ranks as the 307th best in the nation and 16th in the conference.
They do have nice offensive balance, though, with five players averaging 8.6 points or more. Their offense has been helped by the return of Poland last month. Poland can be a high-volume scorer and has improved his shooting percentage by 10 percent since last season.
Senior forward Augustus Gilchrist remains the type of offensive threat that can cause a lot of trouble for opposing teams. Gilchrist is a big forward that can score inside and outside. He has struggled with his shot a bit this season with a 36.6 field goal percentage.
Despite a nice balance of scoring, South Florida is a team that relies on their defense to win games. They are more than capable of protecting a lead if they get ahead big early. As of Thursday, they are 15th in the nation in scoring defense and first in the Big East.
DePaul has to focus on not letting South Florida getting in an offensive rhythm early because than DePaul would fall right into what South Florida wants to do.
Forcing South Florida to get uncomfortable in their offense is essential to this game. Playing more of a zone defense may benefit DePaul in a game such as this because South Florida is not a real good outside shooting team. If DePaul can take away South Florida's inside the arc game, DePaul has a great chance to win.
South Florida plays at a slow pace as well, and have averaged 60.3 possessions per 40 minutes. DePaul could shake up South Florida's offense if they can speed up the tempo of the game and use their press to force turnovers and take valuable time off the shot clock. Not allowing an average offensive team to get set up in their offense could considerably change the outlook of this game for DePaul.
2. Stick with the rotation used against Georgetown
DePaul showed some strong stretches in the Georgetown game. Those periods of play could very well be because of an adjustment to the rotation.
Having Clahar assume more responsibility at the point guard spot allows for Young to play off the ball and look to score the ball more. Young did not shoot a high percentage Tuesday, but is a more than capable scorer.
Limiting Faber's minutes for this game and the rest of the way could be beneficial for this season and beyond. DePaul has to see what they have in Kirk and Robertson Jr., and the only true way of knowing is playing them more.
Kirk is not a true post player, but offers more offensive and shot-blocking ability than Faber. Robertson Jr. has displayed the shot-blocking prowess he was known for in high school. In limited minutes over the past five games, he has recorded 7 blocks and is more of a presence at the back of the press.
3. Play 40 minutes
South Florida is a very confident team right now. They are playing the type of defense head coach Stan Heath has to like and are winning consistently in conference. They will definitely not be an easy opponent to defeat.
DePaul has to approach this game as any other one and play 40 minutes of strong basketball. They seem to be stuck in a cycle during games where they play good for five minutes and then struggle for the next five and it repeats throughout the game. Against real talented teams in the Big East, this type of play will not earn many victories.
Shattering South Florida's confidence early in the game and progressively playing well the rest of the way could allow DePaul to end their losing streak. Consistency from all parts of the team and playing at the fast pace they are comfortable with could go a long way on Sunday.