Blue Demons look for redemption against Pirates


Michael Conory | aP

It’s probably a good thing that DePaul’s next game is away from Wintrust Arena.

The DePaul Blue Demons (10-15; 3-10 Big East) are 5-9 at home this season, but haven’t won at Wintrust Arena since Dec. 21 against Miami (Ohio) and are still searching for their first conference win in their home building. All three of their Big East wins came in cities not named Chicago.

On Sunday they still won’t have a chance to end that winning drought at home, as the Blue Demons will travel to Newark, N.J. for a noon battle against the Seton Hall Pirates (17-9; 6-7 Big East) at the Prudential Center.  The game will air on television on Fox Sports 1 and radio on WSCR 670 AM.

This is the 21st all-time meeting between the two teams with Seton Hall holding a decisive 15-6 advantage. In a Jan. 28 matchup that ended with an 86-70 win for Seton Hall, Pirate senior center Angel Delgado recorded his 702nd-career rebound early in the first half to become the all-time leading rebounder in Big East history. Although Delgado scored just ten points in the game, a combined 50 points from guard Myles Powell (21 points), guard Khadeen Carrington (15 points), and forward Desi Rodriguez (14 points) was plenty to carry Seton Hall to a victory on a night when the Blue Demons shot just 22.7 percent (5-for-22) from behind the 3-point stripe.

On the flip end of that stat, the Pirates predictably assaulted the Blue Demons from behind the 3-point line. That night, 50 percent of the Pirates 3-point field goal attempts fell (eight total). The Blue Demons have surrendered eight or more made 3-point field goals in 19 of their 25 games this season (76 percent) and are last in the Big East in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (37.7 percent).

But the Blue Demons are catching the Pirates at a good time. Since that first game between the two teams, the Pirates have lost four of their last five games including their last four as they’ve fallen to No. 35 in the country in the Ken Pomeroy rankings and now have a losing record in conference play for the first time this season. Losses against Villanova and Xavier on both the front and back end of the losing streak were expected, but sandwiched between those losses were losses to Marquette and Georgetown by a combined six points. In those four games Seton Hall, one of the better rebounding teams in the Big East (+3.8 rebounding margin which is third in the Big East) was outrebounded in three out of those four games and by almost three rebounds per game during that four-game stretch.

Since the Blue Demons last played the Pirates, their 1-3 record doesn’t tell the whole story. The Butler Bulldogs blew them out on Jan. 20, but their other two losses (against Creighton and St. John’s) were by a point apiece and could have easily been a tick in the win column if a few plays went their way. The Blue Demons also handedly beat Providence in Rhode Island during that stretch.

A familiar face who has endured his share of adversity this season has led the charge for the Blue Demons over the last three games. The barometer for judging Eli Cain’s game is always going to be his shooting efficiency and over the past three games the Blue Demon junior guard has been solid in that category. In that stretch, Cain has averaged 17 points per game on 58.3 percent from the field (60 percent from 3-point land) and in the game against St. John’s on Wednesday he recorded his first double-double of the season.

Fans don’t want to hear it, but if the Blue Demons can scrap out a win in New Jersey, that would bring them to four conference wins on the season which is the most they’ve had since the 2014-2015 season when they won six conference games. The Blue Demons currently sit ninth in the conference standings, although a red-hot St. John’s team is only a half game behind them.