Despite their 5-3 record, the DePaul Blue Demons have struggled against teams from the top conferences. They have played teams from the Big Ten and the American, and have lost all three games against those teams, including their last game against Temple. In the Hoophall Miami Invitational, DePaul were on the ropes early. Temple jumped out to a 25-point lead early, thanks to some balanced scoring from their two best players. DePaul fought back in the game, outscoring Temple 42-34 in the second half. They went on a 14-0 run during a five minute stretch, sparked by Eli Cain, where it looked like they could make it a barnburner. But they couldn’t hit some baskets down the stretch and ended up with their 3rd loss of the season. It was a tale of two halves for DePaul. Hopefully for the Blue Demons, they can to look to that second half for inspiration.
DePaul will be hosting another in-state school in the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) at McGrath-Phillips Arena. The UIC Flames currently have a 4-5 record on the season and currently sit sixth in the Horizon League. They enter this contest on a two game losing streak, dropping back-to-back games to Eastern Illinois and Grand Canyon. They have played a so-so schedule in terms of strength, with games against NIU, Eastern, and UTSA being the toughest so far. The problem for the Flames is that they won only one of those games, beating UTSA 86-78 in the second game of the season.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Jeff Levering, Dickey Simpkins)
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || UICFlames.com (UIC)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Odds: DePaul enters this game as an eight point favorite via OddsShark.com
Record ATS: DePaul (3-5) || UIC (4-3)
DePaul leads the all-time series 8-1, and are currently on a four game winning streak against UIC with the latest win coming last year when they beat the Flames 82-55. They first played in 1947, which resulted in a 77-25 win for DePaul. Yes, you read that score correctly.
Three things to watch for
Stopping Dikembe Dixson
The best player and most prolific scorer for UIC is Dikembe Dixson. Only a sophomore, Dixson is 19th in the country in scoring, averaging 22.2 points per game. He takes a lot of shots for the Flames, and is the focal point of their offense. The entire UIC offense revolves around Dixson’s ability to drive to the rim, draw contact, and create second chance opportunities for the Flames big men. DePaul will have to try to take him out of the game and limit UIC’s offensive rebounds. They will also have to be wary of UIC picking up their offense in the second half, which the Flames have shown the ability to do all season. UIC scores 81.3 points per game, good for 49th in the country, and this will be a test for DePaul.
Getting to the line
UIC loves to get to the free throw line. Like a lot. They are tied for 12th in the nation in terms of total free throws taken, having shot 280 from the charity stripe in just nine games. The leader for UIC in that category has been Dixson as well, who gets to the line around nine times per game. If the Flames want to pull off an upset, they will have to slow the game down and force DePaul into foul trouble. That will really test Dave Leitao’s rotation and his bench players, who haven’t performed all that well this season.
Solid three game stretch for DePaul
After this game, DePaul will face Chicago State (who UIC beat handily early this season) along with Southeast Missouri State. All three of these games will be played in a six day span and will test DePaul’s endurance as a team as well as their player rotation. But these are all winnable games for DePaul.