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DePaul on the road for the first time, against Louisville

The Blue Demons have the opportunity to pick up a high major road win on Friday night

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TV, Times, and Lines:

TV: ACCN

Date: Friday, December 10

Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Spread: Louisville -7.5

Total: O/U 146.5


Preview

On Friday night, the Blue Demons head into KFC Yum! Center to take on the Louisville Cardinals in DePaul’s first game away from home this season. This will be their 60th meeting against one another in which Louisville has dominated with a 38-22 record. Before the move to the ACC, the Cardinals shared a conference with DePaul for 18 years. The last time these two teams met was on February 27, 2013 in DePaul’s old Rosemont Arena, and Louisville beat down the Blue Demons 79-58.

This will be DePaul’s toughest matchup in their early season. The Cardinals are 6-2 to start the season with wins against Mississippi State, Maryland, and NC State. They are an already decorated team that has bounced back in a major way since their loss at home to the Furman Paladins. Despite these high major wins, Louisville has flashed the weakness that they are susceptible to losing to any team. DePaul on the other hand has not faced much competition besides the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers.

I touched on this in DePaul’s last preview, but I still believe that shooting remains the key to winning this game for the Blue Demons. Even when shooting the ball well in wins, 1st year head coach Tony Stubblefield has continuously preached defense and rebounding. Well, the difference from their loss against Loyola and their win against Duquesne was their shooting. Last Saturday against Loyola, the Blue Demons shot 39.1% from the field and 21.7% from three, while last Tuesday against Duquesne, the Blue Demons shot 53.0% from the field and 47.6% from three.

The main focus for coach Stubblefield heading into their first road trip is to “be collective as one unit to go on the road and try to get something done that [they] want to get done.” Trying to get a win in their first game away from home will definitely be a challenge. At KFC Yum! Center, Louisville has been 174-29 since their home has opened.

Players to Watch:

Javon Freeman-Liberty (DePaul): JFL will continue to be on this list every single game. The Chicago native has imposed himself as the frontrunner for the Big East player of the year. After a seven point six rebound performance in a loss to Loyola, Freeman-Liberty came back last game with 26 points, nine rebounds and a win. Throughout the season the senior has proved that he is an elite scorer, playmaker, and rebounder. Every preview I will continue to preach that JFL is must watch TV.

Philmon Gebrewhit (DePaul): This is the first time Gebrewhit has made the Players to Watch list. When trying to figure out the second DePaul player, I wanted to look for what I believed to be their X-Factor. JFL is the team’s best player, but I believe that Philmon is the X-Factor for the Blue Demons, at least for now. The JUCO transfer gives the current Blue Demons a fifth threat that can score double digit points each game. When the 6’7” guard is hitting shots, DePaul can be a scary team.

Noah Locke (Louisville): This year has been Locke’s first with the Cardinals. He spent his first three collegiate years in Gainesville, playing for the Gators. The 6’3” guard is the leading scorer and the only Cardinal averaging double digit points each game. The senior has struggled as of late, but is still the team’s number one option. Look for Locke to have a solid night and score 12+ points.

Prediction:

I think that tonight will be the night that the Blue Demons put themselves on the national map. They have looked great so far for their standards this season, unlike a Louisville team that has a bad loss and has had many close games with teams that they should have blown out. The Cardinals are favored tonight by 7.5, but I believe that DePaul will win outright. The Blue Demons are playing a team that only puts up 70.8 ppg which ranks 213th in the country, while they rank 11th with 85.2 points per game. If DePaul can keep the game close to start and not give up a huge lead like they did against Loyola, I see them pulling off the upset and leaving Kentucky 8-1.