DePaul (10-11) vs. Providence (15-6)
Saturday, February 1st, 12PM CST
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
TV: Fox Sports Net, WPWR Ch. 50 (DePaul)
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul), WEEI 103.7 FM (Providence)
DePaul is on a three-game losing streak, giving up more than 80 points in each defeat. In a 17-point loss last week at Seton Hall, the Blue Demons were without three starters - Billy Garrett Jr. (undisclosed illness), Charles McKinney (ankle), and Cleveland Melvin, who was suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule.
It appears that Oliver Purnell will be forced to play the cards he were dealt once again today, as all three players are out for today's game against Providence. Purnell plans to start walk-on guard Edwind McGhee, guard Durrell McDonald and forward DeJuan Marrero again with Brandon Young and Sandi Marcius, back in the starting lineup thanks to a banged-up Tommy Hamilton.
The Friars are not be an easy team to beat at full-strength, let alone with three starters down. Before losing at Marquette on Thursday, Providence racked off five straight victories, including an impressive home win over Creighton. Currently fourth in the Big East, Providence is in good position to pick up its sixth conference win today against a depleted DePaul squad.
Without some key starters in the rotation, DePaul has been forced to rely on senior Brandon Young, who went 7-for-16 last week at Seton Hall with a team-high of 25 points. Durrell McDonald didn't miss a single attempt, contributing 14, while R.J. Curington provided 15 points off the bench.
Aside from those three, there wasn't much else to write home about. Tommy Hamilton played 22 minutes off the bench, but he's been ineffective while suffering from a bruised sternum. Marcius, Marrero and McGhee combined for seven points, and Seton Hall, with only one man in double-digits (Fuquan Edwin with 30 points), outshot the Blue Demons by nearly 30 percent in the first half. DePaul played better in the second half, but they were unable to stop the Pirates on the fast break and inside the paint.
That can't happen against a Providence team that receives major contributions from each of its starters. The Friars did struggle mightily against Marquette. Despite 20 from guard Bryce Cotton and 18 from forward LaDontae Henton, the Friars shot less than 18 percent in the first half. Providence is still a lot more efficient on offense than the Blue Demons, not to mention they are 100 percent healthy going into the matchup. They make the most of their possessions and are able to play hard at the defensive end as well, something DePaul has found trouble consistently doing.
It's hard to find a scenario in which DePaul picks up the victory. Even with Garrett, Melvin and McKinney in the lineup, Providence is just a better team that limits the turnovers and gets a lot of production out of its starting five. Oliver Purnell will have to receive career games from his guys if he expects a win, because anything else just might not be enough.
Providence 78, DePaul 65