It was tough sledding for the DePaul Blue Demons in their first game of the PK80 Invitational. Against one of the top teams in the country in the Michigan State Spartans, DePaul was able to hang with Sparty for an entire half. They even led at one point in the contest. It made you believe, for a little bit, that it could be one of those nights for Dave Leitao’s team. Being tied at halftime certainly raised some eyebrows around the country.
But just like against Notre Dame, DePaul failed to show up in the second half. The Blue Demons only scored 20 points in the final 20 minutes, and basically watched as MSU took the game right from them.
The loss aside, it was a very bad performance from the Blue Demons overall, especially considering how well they played in the first half.
However, DePaul can’t dwell on this loss quickly as in most tournaments/invitationals, they have a game quickly after. It won’t be a team as strong as MSU, but a tough team nonetheless.
DePaul’s opponent in this fixture will be the Oregon Ducks. Dana Altman’s team started off the season on a high note, going 4-0 heading into the PK80 Invitational. They had some momentum heading into this Invitational, but it was completely wiped out in their first game, as Oregon fell to the UConn Huskies, 71-63. It was an extremely disappointing result for the Ducks, as they lost in the first round of a tournament held in their own back yard. This certainly isn’t the same Ducks team which made the Final Four last year, with the likes of Dillon Brooks and others leaving for the NBA.
It’s going to be a tough year for Altman and his staff in terms of trying to incorporate new guys while also handling the expectations that were set with last year’s success. Losing in the first round is a tough pill to swallow, and they will certainly be looking for answers in this game against DePaul.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Radio: WSCR 670 AM (DePaul) || Oregon IMG Sports Network (Oregon)
Odds: Oregon enters this game as a 11.5 point favorite (via Oddsshark.com)
Record ATS: DePaul (1-3) || Oregon (3-1)
O/U: The O/U opened at 147
Last Time They Met
It’s a season of renewing old foes for DePaul apparently. This will only be the third meeting ever between Oregon and DePaul, with the Blue Demons leading 2-0. The last time these two teams met was way back in 1941. Fun little fact, via the Oregon press release for this game, the final score of the game back in 1941 was 27-23, which is more of a football score than anything.
3 Things to Watch
DePaul’s shooting woes
It was another really bad night from three for DePaul. They shot 25 percent from deep, hitting just four of their 16 attempts. Like most times, it’s a minority of the guys taking most of the threes. Both Max Strus and Tre'Darius McCallum shot a combined 2-9 from downtown, with the former really struggling in this contest. Strus only hit one field goal in this game but went 10-10 from the line to end up with 12 points.
While it’s fantastic to see him get to the line like how he did, he can’t be going 1-10 from the field. He needs to start showing more of an impact from three to help space out DePaul’s offense and give Eli Cain some room to work.
Better bench production
The bench was also a sight for sore eyes against MSU. DePaul’s reserves scored a combined two points with Brandon Cyrus being the only one off the bench to make a basket. They failed to give the starters any relief, and it forced Leitao to play heavy minutes for his main guys. Which explained the fatigue and faltering down the stretch. Obviously, Leitao is going to need a whole lot more from his bench unit guys. He can’t be playing his starters 33+ minutes on back-to-back nights. Guys like Justin Roberts, Jaylen Butz, and Cyrus will have to step up for the Blue Demons.
Stopping Payton Pritchard
One of the key danger men for Oregon will be guard Payton Pritchard. He had an extremely successful freshman year, averaging 7.4 points and 3.6 assists. He had 20 points in their last win over Ball State and dropped 14 despite a poor shooting night against UConn.
Pritchard is a decent scorer and isn’t afraid to shoot it from deep, as evident with this 9 3-point attempts against the Huskies. There are a lot of scorers on this Oregon team, with multiple guys averaging double figures. But look for Pritchard to be the leader offensively. If DePaul wants a chance at winning this game, they are going to have to slow him down.