Rutgers (13-10) at DePaul (10-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allstate Arena (15,261) -- Rosemont, Illinois. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: RU 9-5, DePaul 6-7. Away Record: RU 3-5, DePaul 4-5. Neutral Record: RU 1-0, DePaul 0-2. Conference Record: RU 4-8, DePaul 1-10. Series Record: RU leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: Still in search of their first win in more than a month, the DePaul Blue Demons will entertain the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this afternoon in a Big East Conference tilt at Allstate Arena.
DePaul has suffered nine straight losses going back to early-January. The Blue Demons are coming off an 82-78 overtime loss at No. 21 Notre Dame on Wednesday, which marked their third overtime game in the last five contests and second time in a span of 12 days they played extra sessions against the Fighting Irish. The Blue Demons are winless in each of those overtime games, and Wednesday's loss was their 40th straight against a ranked opponent.
Rutgers has not fared much better of late, as Tuesday's 57-55 win over Seton Hall broke a six-game losing streak. But now it's back to the road for the Scarlet Knights, who have not won on an opponent's hardwood since a two-point decision over St. John's back on Jan. 9. Beginning tonight, they'll play three of their next four on the road.
RU holds a 5-3 edge in the all-time series, although DePaul notched a 69-64 road win over the Scarlet Knights last January.
The Scarlet Knights shot just 39.1 percent from the floor on Tuesday night, but they held Seton Hall to 36.7-percent shooting and also forced 14 turnovers. Still, after leading by as many as 13 with less than 10 minutes to play, Rutgers watched its lead nearly evaporate as the Pirates put together a 15-4 run over the final four minutes of regulation. It was a one-possession game in the final minute until RU sealed the outcome with late free throws. Eli Carter led the way with 14 points in the victory, while fellow guard Myles Mack scored 10. On the season, Carter paces the squad with 15.4 points per game, while Mack is scoring 12.7 ppg. Carter is a 38.4-percent shooter from the floor whereas Mack is shooting 50.3 percent and has knocked down a team- high 42 threes (.462). Mack is also averaging nearly two steals per game.
Scoring has hardly been the issue for the Blue Demons, who are averaging a healthy 73.5 ppg to rank fourth in the Big East. Brandon Young (16.7 ppg, 4.5 apg) headlines the backcourt, while Cleveland Melvin (16.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) takes care of business down low. However, opponents have scored almost at will against DePaul, averaging 73.8 ppg. And things have gotten worse during their current nine-game skid, as the Blue Demons have allowed 84.5 ppg in those losses. DePaul put up a solid fight on the road against the nationally-ranked Fighting Irish earlier this week, but in the end, ND's 50-percent shooting from the floor and 44-25 rebounding advantage proved too tough to overcome by the end of overtime. The Irish also held a key 21-4 scoring edge at the foul line. Melvin paced four Demon Deacons in double figures with a game-high 23 points, followed by Young with 20.
It has been a trying season for both of these squads, but tonight presents a good opportunity to take out their frustrations on one another. DePaul has come up painfully short a few times during its losing streak, but look for that to change tonight against the visiting Scarlet Knights.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: DePaul 77, Rutgers 70
02/16 10:39:54 ET