The DePaulia

Blue Demons look for better showing against Marquette second time around

DePaul+sophomore+guard+Eli+Cain+drives+the+ball+through+Marquette%E2%80%99s+defense+last+season.+%28Photo+by+Josh+Leff+%2F+The+DePaulia%29
DePaul sophomore guard Eli Cain drives the ball through Marquette’s defense last season. (Photo by Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

DePaul sophomore guard Eli Cain drives the ball through Marquette’s defense last season. (Photo by Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

Josh Leff

Josh Leff

DePaul sophomore guard Eli Cain drives the ball through Marquette’s defense last season. (Photo by Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

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It’s a classic sporting rivalry, the city of Chicago versus the city of Milwaukee in this case manifesting in a game between the DePaul Blue Demons (10-17; 3-12) and the Marquette Golden Eagles (16-11; 7-8) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wintrust Arena.

Saturday is the 122nd meeting between the two teams, with Marquette holding a decisive 75-46 advantage in the all-time series. Last time the two teams met, the Golden Eagles dominated on a snowy evening in Milwaukee to the tune of a 70-52 victory that wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated. DePaul shot 29.9 percent from the field which was their second-lowest shooting percentage for a single game this season (they shot 25.5 percent against Michigan State on Nov. 23). Sophomore guard Brandon Cyrus led the way in the scoring department for the Blue Demons with 15 points, while junior guards Max Strus and Eli Cain combined to shoot 5-for-22 from the field (22.7 percent).

DePaul hopes for a much better effort on Saturday in their home arena, while Marquette remains desperate for wins as the regular season winds down to strengthen their argument for earning their second-straight NCAA Tournament bid. The updated Bracketology from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi doesn’t include the Golden Eagles. Marquette is No. 47 in the Ken Pomeroy rankings, which is the sixth-best ranking out of Big East teams.

Marquette finished its nonconference slate with a 9-3 record, including a win against in-state rival Wisconsin on Dec. 9. The Golden Eagles began the Big East portion of their schedule with a 3-2 record including a 20-point win against then No. 13 Seton Hall on Jan. 9. But the wheels fell off as January concluded and transitioned into February as the Golden Eagles dropped four straight games. However, they come into Wintrust on Saturday with a two game winning streak as they hope a late-season run can propel them into the tournament.

The two-headed monster of guard Andrew Rowsey (19.5 points per game) and guard Markus Howard (21.3 points per game) are both top five in scoring in the Big East. However, Howard is questionable for the game on Saturday after suffering a hip injury against Creighton and that’d be a significant loss if he can’t go again (although Marquette is 1-0 without him). Sam Hauser, a 6-foot-7-inch guard, has been steady all season and averages 14.6 points per game. He is sixth in the country in 3-point field goal percentage (50.3 percent) and knocked down five 3-point field goals in the first matchup between the two teams.

Sophomore forward Sacar Anim has been a nice surprise for the Golden Eagles this season, and has averaged 13.3 points per game on 55.1 percent from the field in the last seven games including an outing against Creighton last week where he poured in a career-high 26 points. He has also connected on five 3-point field goals in his last seven games, and when he’s shooting well the Golden Eagles have four players in the starting lineup who can legitimately stretch the floor.

On paper, the Golden Eagles don’t defend anybody as they rank ninth in the conference in opponent scoring (81.9 points per game) and last in opponent field goal percentage (49.5 percent). Obviously, that didn’t stop them from shutting the Blue Demons down in the first matchup between the two teams, although the competitiveness the Blue Demons have shown in some of these Big East games recently suggests that the game against Marquette was more of an outlier than anything else.

The Blue Demons have two more opportunities to score a conference win at Wintrust Arena. With a date against No. 4 Xavier looming next week, their best shot to win at home is probably on Saturday against Marquette. Having more than one of their stars playing extremely well at the same time would help their cause. Not that scoring 20 points is the benchmark for a good game, but the Blue Demons haven’t had two players score over 20 points in the same game since their first matchup against St. John’s on Jan. 6. Similarly, Strus and Cain have both shot above 40 percent from the field in the same game only twice in Big East play, and those two games were both wins ironically.

This game will air on Fox Sports Network and WSCR 670 AM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blue Demons look for better showing against Marquette second time around