The winless Lehigh Mountain Hawks will take on DePaul in Chicago tonight. The Blue Demons will be looking to do everything in their power to preserve their undefeated season and procure another nonconference win for the dominant Big East.
Hamilton Must Produce
So far this season, Tommy Hamilton has given us two starkly different performances. In the Blue Demons' matchup with Illinois-Chicago, Hamilton put forth a commendable showing, dominating all facets of the game. He was a solid rebounding force, he was able to score efficiently, and he was doing his part to impact frontcourt scoring production from the Flames. His performance was much less impressive against Drake, however, as his abilities were severely enervated by foul trouble, ultimately leading to him fouling out with only nine points.
Foul trouble has been the name of the game for Hamilton in the two games that DePaul has played so far. He has to be on tonight to prevent the need for a bench player to fill in for what he's missing. Hamilton is more than capable of that, and I fully expect him to have over 15 points tonight.
Capitalize on Fouls
Lehigh is extremely prone to finding their way into foul trouble. In their four games this season, all of which have been losses, the Mountain Hawks have had a total of 75 fouls, equating to roughly 19 per game. DePaul has had a higher number of fouls per game, but they fact that the Blue Demons have only played two games balances that out. These foul numbers from Lehigh are statistically significant, so one might expect that the Mountain Hawks will put up a similarly high amount of fouls tonight.
If that is the case, DePaul must cash in at the free throw line. As a team, DePaul hits roughly 64% of their free throws which, in all honesty, is pretty dismal. If Lehigh fouls with reckless abandon tonight as they have done in the past, DePaul will have to convert at the charity stripe. If they leave points behind, there's a solid chance that they could lose this one and many future contests that hinge on free throw shooting.
I'm not advocating larceny, but I am saying that Billy Garrett, Jr., Jamee Crockett, and the rest of DePaul's backcourt will need to be trying to turn Lehigh over as frequently as possible. Lehigh has hemorrhaged turnovers this season, averaging 17 per game. Honestly, they have been their own worst enemies this season. The main reason that Lehigh is winless is that their opponents are recognizing that locking down on defenders results in easy steal opportunities; two of the Mountain Hawks' starting guards, Austin Price and Kahron Ross, cough up the ball nearly three times a game--a number that is surely in the back of Coach Purnell's mind. If he allows his guards to play tight against this Lehigh team, then DePaul will have a solid opportunity to force turnovers and win the battle in transition.