After losing to Temple in the Miami HoopHall Invitational, the common thought was that the DePaul Blue Demons were going to bounce back against the UIC Flames. Coming into the game, UIC wasn’t the strongest opponent, and losing star player Dikembe Dixson to an injury early in the first half didn’t make things easier. But in the end, it was the team from the Horizon League that walked out of McGrath Phillips Arena and left Blue Demon fans stunned.
The loss presented a lot of problems, but DePaul has to be able to recover quickly to avoid being unprepared for their next opponent: The Chicago State Cougars in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.
Chicago State sits last in the WAC and unless they pick up some wins in this last stretch of their nonconference schedule, that standing won’t change when conference season starts in January.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Odds: DePaul enters this game as a 13.5 point favorite via OddsShark.com
Record ATS: DePaul (3-6) || Chicago State (1-1)
This is the 15th overall meeting between these two schools, with DePaul winning all 14 previous games.
3 things to watch for
Getting Eli Cain more involved
As mentioned in the recap for their game against UIC, DePaul’s offense really went rouge the last five minutes of the game and it cost them. Eli Cain, the team’s leading scorer who had a game-high 26 points that night as well, only touched the ball once during that stretch. Although DePaul certainly has another good scoring option in Billy Garrett Jr., they need to utilize both of their playmakers. It can’t just be Garrett driving into the paint with the entire defense collapsing on him. UIC was prepared for that and stymied the Blue Demons late on. DePaul can’t let that happen again and must use Cain to his best ability on offense.
Stopping Fred Sims Jr.
Chicago’s State best player on offense is guard Fred Sims. The sophomore leads all Cougar players in scoring with 18.3 points per game and is averaging 3.3 rebounds as well. He is the key for DePaul on defense and like Dixon was last game, it would be best for the Blue Demons to focus on him and force the other Chicago State players to beat them. They will have to force Chicago State to play as a team on offense, not just through one man. It’s easier said than done however.
Will Joe Hanel continue to dominate the big man minutes?
It’s no secret that Joe Hanel is the best big man that DePaul has to offer and they’re his minutes to lose when it comes to the center position. He nearly had a double-double against UIC and will continue to help clean up the glass for DePaul. But he will have his hands full against a Chicago State team that out rebounded Northwestern in their last game.