Blue Demons seek first conference home win in battle with Bluejays

DePaul head coach Dave Leitao yells to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball  game against Villanova, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

DePaul head coach Dave Leitao yells to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Paul Steeno, Sports Reporter

The DePaul Blue Demons (9-13; 2-8 Big East) will need to shake off the sting of the Tyger Campbell non commitment quickly and prepare for an 8 p.m. game against the Creighton Bluejays (17-6; 7-4 Big East) at Wintrust Arena Wednesday night.

The Blue Demons return to action after a disappointing trip to Indianapolis on Saturday that ended with an 80-57 loss at the hands of the Butler Bulldogs. Both of the Blue Demons wins in the Big East Conference this season have been in away games, and DePaul has followed up both these wins with ugly home losses.

After an extended layoff due to a sickness, freshman Jaylen Butz returned to action in the game against Butler nabbing a point, an assist, and a rebound apiece in nine minutes of playing time. Frontcourt teammate Marin Maric led all Blue Demon scorers with 15 points on 6-for-10 from the field with DePaul players not named Maric combining to shoot 33.3 percent (14-for-42) from the field in the game.

With eight regular season games to play, the Blue Demons sit with two conference wins, their same total from a season ago. Their conference record is the second worst in the Big East, with only a winless St. John’s trailing them. Quietly, the Bluejays sit tied for third in the Big East  standings. They come off a 98-78 loss against No. 1 ranked Villanova last Thursday. The Bluejays dropped their first Big East contest against then No. 23 ranked Seton Hall on Dec. 28, then won four games in a row, and have since lost games against Xavier and Providence in addition to the previously mentioned loss to Villanova.

A veteran-laden roster led by senior Marcus Foster and his 19.9 points per game (third in the Big East) on a supremely efficient 50.7 percent from the field averages 86.1 points per game which is the sixth highest total in the country. They are 19th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency which trails Villanova, Xavier, and Marquette respectively for tops in the Big East. The Bluejays have six players who shoot over 37 percent from behind the 3-point line on at least one attempt per game and have four players within the top 15 in field goal percentage in the Big East.

However, the dazzling offensive display is offset by a porous defense that has allowed opponents to score 74 points per game this season (232nd in the country) and shoot the ball at a 49.4 percent clip from the field (187th in the country). The Bluejays have surrendered 86.8 points per game to opponents in their six losses this season. The Blue Demons are second to last in the Big East in both points (72.8 points per game) and field goal percentage (42.4 percent) so its weakness against weakness as a struggling Blue Demon offense meets a permeable Creighton defense.

Bluejays head coach Greg McDermott is in his eighth season at the helm of the program, and has guided the Bluejays to a postseason tournament berth in all but one of those seasons. McDermott is the father of current NBA player Doug McDermott who played for his father at Creighton and won the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year award in 2014.

Doug McDermott played against the Blue Demons three times during his college career, winning every matchup by double digits. But the all-time series between the two teams has been exponentially more competitive. This is the 33rd all-time meeting between the two teams, with the series knotted at 16 games apiece.

The next installment in the series begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. and will air on Fox Sports 1 and WSCR 670 AM.