TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Saturday, January 22nd
Time: 5:30 p.m. EST
Spread: Creighton -9.5
Total: O/U 140.5
On Big East Saturday, the (10-7) (1-6) DePaul Blue Demons are in Omaha to play a tough road game against the (11-5) (3-2) Creighton Bluejays. DePaul is coming off of a heartbreaking loss on Wednesday to (20) Xavier, while Creighton is fresh off of a blowout home win against St. John’s. The chances at a tournament auto-bid for the Blue Demons may be out the window, but there is always an opportunity to grow, especially when this is year one of the Coach Stubbs era.
With Javon Freeman-LIberty being announced out for today, let’s go back to Wednesday night’s Xavier at DePaul game. The question mark prior to the matchup was: Who will make up for the missing 21 ppg that JFL contributes? We found that answer very early when sophomore David Jones scored 9 points in the first 5 minutes of action. The issue posed was that outside of Jones and a great shooting performance from Brandon Johnson, no other Blue Demons played a big, or, even decent scoring role.
A player that has came onto the scene in the last few games has been senior forward Yor Anei. The SMU transfer has averaged 10.3 points and 9.7 rebounds over DePaul’s last three games. After Wednesday’s loss, Coach Stubbs said that Yor “is a warrior” and will “compete night in and night out.” These words from DePaul’s first year head coach should not be taken lightly. Anei’s progression is something to continue to follow, especially as he goes up against Creighton’s big men of Ryan Hawkins and Ryan Kalkbrenner.
The home team and opposing team of the Blue Demons today is the Creighton Bluejays. Led by freshman star Ryan Nembhard and former Duke transfer Alex O’Connell, the Bluejays have been one of the more surprising teams in the Big East. The reason being, is Creighton’s youth. Out of 358 teams, the Bluejays rank 308th in experience. The average amount of years played by a Bluejay this year is 1.34. Despite the youth, this is a very dangerous Creighton team, and honestly one of the best that Coach McDermott has had in his 12 year stint in Omaha.
Henry’s Three Keys:
1. Jalen Terry
- The Oregon transfer had his career high in points in DePaul’s only conference win of the season. With JFL out last game, I thought that he would carry off his big game and play a much bigger role against Xavier, but he only put up 9 points. This is another chance for Terry to perform well and solidify himself as a starter, even when Javon is back. The Blue Demons are currently 1-0 when JT has 20+ points. That will definitely be a stat to look out for today.
2. Extra Possessions
- One thing that DePaul has done very well this year is getting offensive rebounds. The Blue Demons rank 35th in the country in Offensive Rebounding %, securing them on 34.1% of possessions. This has been one of the primary reasons that DePaul has stayed close in many of its games. As long as the Blue Demons give themselves second chances at as high of a rate as they have, they will have a good chance to win today.
3. Strong Second
- After DePaul has surprised many viewers in the last couple of games by getting out to early leads against top 20 teams, the issue has been maintaining the lead. In the last two games, DePaul has been outscored 91-75 in the second half. If the Blue Demons can tighten up ship in the last 20 minutes, their early lead will remain through both halves, not just the first.
This is a very interesting game. Vegas thinks that Creighton is going to easily win this, but I do not see it that way. The Blue Demons have played their last two opponents very close, and should have been 2-0 in that stretch. Both of those teams were better than this Creighton team. The Bluejays will also be without their Head Coach Greg McDermott, who is out due to COVID protocols. I think that DePaul is hungrier for this win, and in a Big East battle, the saying “hungry dog runs faster” is true. Expect a battle in the paint, with the Blue Demons eeking out a win.
DePaul wins, 71-68