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Game Preview: DePaul vs. Georgetown

DePaul begins conference play on the road at Georgetown, determined to avoid a sixth straight finish in the Big East cellar.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It took a last-second effort, but DePaul was able to break even on their in-state road trip with a 56-55 victory over Northwestern. Now 8-5, the Blue Demons begin conference play in the new Big East at Georgetown, looking to avoid a last-place finish for the sixth straight season.

DePaul (8-5) at Georgetown (8-3)

Tuesday, Dec. 31st, 4 P.M. CST
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: WIND 560 AM (Chicago), ESPN 980 AM (D.C.)

Last Time Out

Player Grades
Player Grade Comments
Cleveland Melvin B The star of this DePaul team bounced back from a forgettable performance at Illinois State, scoring eleven points to go along with six boards.
Brandon Young C Young played all but three minutes, but you wouldn't tell by looking at the stat sheet. The senior scored went 2-for-11 from the field, but its his seven rebounds and the awareness to pass up a three and find Garrett underneath the basket for the game winner that bumps his grade up.
Sandi Marcius A Marcius had one of the best games of his career Friday, as he scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, grabbed five boards, and made two dominant plays late in the game to put DePaul in position to win.
Billy Garrett, Jr. C+ Garrett scored nine points on 33 percent shooting, but it was his big buzzer-beating lay-up that has DePaul fans salivating at seeing him in a Blue Demon uniform for years to come. Garrett also earned his third Big East rookie of the year honor so far this season.
Tommy Hamilton C- Hamilton got into foul trouble very early, picking up three fouls in the first seven minutes of the game. He finished with a modest six rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
DeJuan Marrero D+ Marrero followed up his best game as a freshman with a three minute, four rebound performance.
Durrell McDonald B McDonald continued his fine performance off the bench with a game-high four steals and five points in 25 minutes.
Charles McKinney C+ McKinney stepped up connecting all three of his field goals in 14 minutes on the floor.

The Blue Demons played poorly on both sides of the ball Friday against Northwestern, shooting nearly 37 percent from the field in a game they allowed Northwestern to stay in throughout. With the game seemingly in hand late, the Wildcats continued to battle their way back before Drew Sobolewski, who had connected on just one of his prior 32 three-point attempts, nailed a point-blank three to give Northwestern a one-point lead with 5 seconds to go. But Brandon Young would pass up a three-point shot to find freshman Billy Garrett Jr. underneath the basket, who heaved a lay-up with less than a second to go to save the Blue Demons from a crushing defeat.

Looking Ahead

Four Factors
DePaul Georgetown
Scoring Offense 74.0 76.8
Scoring Defense 71.2 66.0
Effective Field Goal Pct. .489 .542
Opponent Effective FG Pct. .488 .438

Georgetown has won seven of their last eight games after a 92-57 rout of Florida International on Saturday to improve their record to 8-3. Their offensive game is dominated by guards D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (currently seventh in Big East scoring) and Markel Starks, who are both averaging around 16 points a game and are coming off equal 15-point performances against FIU. The duo has accounted for nearly 42 percent of Georgetown's total points and more than half of the team's assists. The key to DePaul pulling off an upset on the road will consist of bucking down around the perimeter and limiting the play of the Hoyas' backcourt.

Georgetown also has the bigs to battle with Sandi Marcius and Tommy Hamilton down low in Joshua Smith and Nate Lubick. Lubick scored a season-high 15 points, the third time in the last four games the senior co-captain has scored double figures, along with a game-high six boards. Smith has given the Hoyas a good season so far at the center position, leading the Big East in field goal percentage shooting 69.3 percent from the field. As good as Marcius and Hamilton have been on the defensive side of the ball, they haven't matched up with a frontcourt as good as Georgetown yet this season and could struggle defending the talented Georgetown big men.


DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell will be a strong showing out of his team in Big East competition if he wants to return for a 5th season on the sidelines. DePaul is a few years away from opening a state-of-the-art facility in the South Loop, which will return the Blue Demons to the city of Chicago for the first time since the program was at its highest point following the 1979 Final Four team. Being back in the city (they have played in nearby Rosemont for 33 years), close to campus, enables them to fully become Chicago's team and should make them a desirable destination for many of the good local area recruits. But in order to attract homegrown talent, the play has to show on the court in key conference games like this one to lure them in.

Unfortunately for DePaul, they are completely outmatched against Georgetown.

The Blue Demons will need a near-flawless game from their starters if they want to pull the upset on the road, but it's unlikely. Cleveland Melvin is sure to come out with a good showing, but its unsure how the rest of DePaul's starting five will play against a Georgetown team scoring almost eleven more points than their opponents. The Hoyas can score the ball, but that isn't where they are superior to DePaul. That is where defense comes into play, and the Demons simply do not have an offense good enough to battle this tough Hoyas D.

On the opposite end, Georgetown comes in with three of the best scorers in the Big East in Smith-Rivera, Starks, and Smith. DePaul has played good D against teams like Houston Baptist and Illinois State, but those are programs not on the same level offensively as Georgetown. I expect a dominant performance as the game progresses, and for the Hoyas to win easily.

Georgetown 78, DePaul 70