TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Tuesday, January 25th
Time: 5:30 p.m. EST
Spread: Villanova -17
Total: O/U 136.5
On Tuesday night, the (10-8) (1-7) DePaul Blue Demons will play their 2nd game of a two game road trip in Philadelphia against the (14-5) (7-2) Villanova Wildcats. DePaul is coming off of yet another tough loss. The story of its conference play has been blown leads. That was no different on Saturday night when the Blue Demons played in Omaha. There has been no consistent struggle for DePaul this season. On Saturday, it was its offense.
First, let's look at the positive of Saturday’s loss against Creighton. The Blue Demons played tremendous defense, especially in the first half. DePaul held the Bluejays to only 23 points through 20 minutes of game play. Despite the smothering defense, it seemed like DePaul could never pull away from Creighton. It had endless opportunities to extend the lead. There was a stretch where the Blue Demons held Creighton scoreless for almost 8 minutes, but they couldn’t score either.
That leads me to the problem last game, and for many other games, for the Blue Demons. Scoring. Without Javon, DePaul has had to look towards other guys to step up and help cover the 21 points per game that it is missing. In the first game without Javon, David Jones was that guy. In game two, though, there was no guy. I thought that the Creighton game would be a prime opportunity for Jalen Terry to flourish, but he did not. Although he led the team in scoring, he only had 12 points. The whole DePaul team only had 15 points in the second half. DePaul will never win a game in the Big East, let alone against any team (D1, D2, or even D3), when it only scores 15 points in a half.
With Javon out again tonight, the question will be posed once again: Who will be the guy to step up in his absence? I thought it would clearly be David Jones through this stretch, but that answer is not so clear anymore. Instead of running through my three keys of the game tonight, I will be listing my top three candidates to score 20+ points each game with Javon out.
Before my 3 candidates, let’s look at DePaul’s opponent. The Villanova Wildcats are the undisputed number 1 team in the Big East right now. There was a point earlier in the season where this was not the case. Coming off of back to back losses, including its first game of Big East play, there were questions of whether of not the Wildcats were the clear number 1 team in the Big East. A 6 game Villanova win streak quickly silenced those thoughts. The Wildcats are led by the backcourt duo of Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore. This duo can combine for 50 points on any given night, and, all the while, give teams trouble on the defensive end. The one area that Villanova does not thrive in, is depth. The Wildcats have a tight 6-7 man rotation. The only time that this would give Villanova issues, would be in an overtime game. The Wildcats are currently 0-1 in games that go to overtime.
Now let’s get into who can step up and lead the Blue Demons while JFL continues to nurse his groin injury.
1. David Jones (15.8 PPG, 7.5 REB/G, 2.0 APG)
- Jones has taken a huge leap in his second year for the Blue Demons. In his sophomore campaign, he has flashed his potential to take over games multiple times. When it comes to David Jones, if he wants to score he will. There are some games where he will take the shots, and as a result score a lot of points. The issue is, that even without JFL, Jones is not taking as many shots as he should be. With Javon out, Jones should be taking 20+ shots each game. If so, there is no question that he can put up a 30+ point performance similar to JFL’s the last time these two teams met.
2. Jalen Terry
- After transferring from Oregon to DePaul this year, the question of whether Terry would play a lot of minutes or not was somewhat obvious. There was another person that transferred from Oregon to DePaul this year: head coach Tony Stubblefield. While Terry did not get significant minutes last year, he had played for the now head coach of the Blue Demons before any other player. That has paid dividends this year. In JFL’s absence, Terry’s usage has gotten a significant boost. For the last couple of games, he has been the starting point guard for the Blue Demons. In that role, he can surely score 20+ points. In games where he does so, DePaul is 1-0.
3. Nick Ongenda
- This last spot was between Ongenda and Brandon Johnson, and I think that Nick has more potential in this matchup. At 6’11”, Ongenda will be going up against 6’8” big man Eric Dixon. In fact, Dixon is the tallest player on this Villanova team. With Ongenda’s success in the post, this could be a game where he is able to have a 15 point double double. Although he hasn’t had a lot of production since non-conference play, this could be the game where he turns it around.
Even with Javon, Villanova would be very difficult to beat. Without him...nearly impossible. I think that DePaul will put up a fight, especially in the first half, but the Wildcats will eventually pull away. Villanova will not lose two straight in Finneran Pavilion.
Villanova wins, 74-62