Given the gauntlet of Big East play they have to go through each season, non-conference is very important for the DePaul Blue Demons. Getting as many wins (and as much momentum) as possible before the month of January comes is super important. It all begins with the first one and that’s exactly what happened when the DePaul Blue Demons took on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.
It was a relatively easy game for the Blue Demons as they took care of business at Wintrust Arena. They led by double digits for a good chunk of the game and in the second half and went on a big run to close out the contest. Overall, it was a solid performance by DePaul. They went out and beat an opponent they were suppose to and did so comfortably. They didn’t let Bethune-Cookman hang around and not only that they were efficient on offense, particularly Max Strus. He dropped a game high 25 points and did so by shooting 57% from the field (8 of 14). Although it is the first game of the season, this was a solid improvement from one of DePaul’s best players. Last season he took a lot of bad shots despite putting up monster numbers. He can certainly score and will be up there in points per game for the Blue Demons. But it has to come more efficiently for the transfer from Lewis. Hopefully for DePaul fans, this is more to come from Strus.
On a night where Eli Cain struggled to put up points, it was nice to see DePaul still have a solid offensive performance. Now it’s on to another home game as the Blue Demons try and make it 2-0 on the season.
The opponents for Monday’s game will be the Morgan State Bears out of the MEAC. It’s been a rough start for them as they are coming into this one with a record of 0-2. In their season opener they played Villanova and we all knew how that contest would turn out. Things didn’t get any better a couple of days later when they faced off against the Saint Francis Red Flash. The Bears were down 14 at the half and things didn’t get any better as they were walloped 80-60. Having two double digit losses to start the season is not ideal. Head coach Todd Bozeman will be looking for a much better effort from his side in Wintrust Arena.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game Time: 8:30 PM ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul) || Morgan State’s official website (Morgan State)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where streaming is available)
Spread: DePaul enters this game as a 23-point favorite
O/U: The over/under is at 143.5
Record ATS: DePaul (1-0) || Morgan State (1-1)
Last Time They Met
This is the second time the programs have ever met so tonight’s matchup will be semi-historic. In their first and only meeting Morgan State upset DePaul in 2008, 79-75 at home.
3 things to watch
Better Performance from Eli Cain
We mentioned earlier about the rough performance Cain had against BCU. Thankfully for DePaul, they were able to get more production from other guys and Strus to carry them to victory. He went 2 of 11 from the field, including 1 of 6 from three in his 36 minutes of action. Cain did have 8 assists however and it was nice to see him still heavily involved despite not being able to score himself. If DePaul wants to remain competitive, they have to get solid games from both Cain and Strus. It won't matter a lot against some of the earlier teams they play but getting Cain off to a good start is key.
Frontcourt Production for DePaul
A big talking point about this DePaul team would be their depth in the frontcourt. With the losses of Joel Hanel, Tre’Darius McCallum, and Marin Maric, there were a lot of questions about this Blue Demon team. Well against BCU they seemed to answer some of these questions. Paul Reed and starter Jaylen Butz combined for 23 points on 12 of 16 from the field. Reed was a force defensively, grabbing 8 rebounds and swatting away 2 shots. Let’s see if they can keep this up against Morgan State.
Stopping Isaiah Burke
The main guy for Morgan State is guard Isaiah Burke. He has been the leading scorer for the Bears at 14 points per game on 45.8% shooting from the field. This is his first year with the team and has scored 17 and 11 in his first couple of games to start the season. Burke is a threat from three, knocking down 3 triples in every game this season for Morgan State. If DePaul doesn’t want Morgan State to hang around in this one, they need to focus on stopping Burke from getting going. If he does, it could open up the offense for everyone else on the Bears.