Blue Demons look for bounceback tonight against Chicago State


Paul Reed has averaged 6.9 points and 7.0 rebounds this season. Richard Bodee I The DePaulia

In the history of the two programs, DePaul (5-2) has never lost against the Chicago State Cougars (3-8).

Tonight at 7 p.m. at Wintrust Arena, the DePaul Blue Demon men’s basketball team will try to make it a perfect 16-0 all-time against their neighbors from Chicago’s South Side. The game is on FS1 and Lisa Byington and Dickey Simpkins are on the call.

Chicago State rocks a three-game winnings streak after dropping their first eight contests of the season. In those three wins, they scaled 80 points in every game after having a season-high scoring output of 71 previously. The 67.9 points per game they’ve averaged this season is 311th in the nation. They currently sit at No. 346 out of 353 teams in the Ken Pomeroy rankings.

By reaching their third win of the season on Dec. 6 when they took care of Trinity Christian, the Cougars have matched their total wins from a season ago when they went 3-29 and finished in last place in the Western Athletic Conference. Four of their five leading scorers are returners so that has helped with the improvement.

As you can imagine, there are connections between the two schools (15.9 miles lay between them). First-year Chicago State head coach Lance Irvin was an assistant coach at DePaul from 1992-1997 under legendary Blue Demon head coach Joey Meyer. He also was an assistant coach and dean of students at Morgan Park High School on Chicago’s South Side where he helped guide the Mustangs to four IHSA state titles. Chicago State has four players on their roster from Chicago and eight total from Illinois.

Size is something that the Cougars have going for them this season. The average height of their team is 6-foot-5-inches and they have three guys on their team 6-foot-8-inches or taller that will help them match up better (at least on paper) against the towering Blue Demon trio of Femi Olujobi, Paul Reed, and Jaylen Butz. Unlike many of the Blue Demons recent opponents, the Cougars have been abysmal from the 3-point line all season. They shoot the ball from deep at a 26.6 percent clip (341st in the nation) and have shot 33.3 percent or above from 3-point range for a single game in just three of 11 games.

Meanwhile in Blue Demon land, DePaul will look to rid themselves of the bad taste in their mouth that lingers behind after a 75-68 loss against Northwestern in Evanston Saturday. Up 15 with 10 minutes to play, Northwestern proceeded to go on a 25-0 run to turn a double-digit deficit into a double-digit advantage and hand the Blue Demons their second loss of the season. It’s the biggest run the Blue Demons have surrendered since Providence dropped 22 straight points on them on Jan. 12, 2018 to edge the Blue Demons 71-64 at Wintrust Arena.

After generating just eight points on 3-for-13 from the field against Northwestern (tied for the fourth lowest output of his Blue Demon career), DePaul senior guard Max Strus will look to bounce back against Chicago State. Over the last two seasons, the Blue Demons are 2-5 in games where he has scored less than 1o points.

DePaul has had success at Wintrust Arena this season (5-0), and they hope that trend continues tonight. The Blue Demons are favored by 24.5 points.