Preview: DePaul searches for first Big East win against no. 5 Butler

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Preview: DePaul searches for first Big East win against no. 5 Butler

Senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands faces up against a Providence defender during a game on Jan. 4.

Senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands faces up against a Providence defender during a game on Jan. 4.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands faces up against a Providence defender during a game on Jan. 4.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands faces up against a Providence defender during a game on Jan. 4.

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The start of Big East conference play has been far from what many DePaul fans were hoping for. After a 12-1 start to the season, the Blue Demons have dropped four straight games in the Big East. Losses to Seton Hall and St. John’s after being competitive for over 30 minutes and heartbreaking close losses to Providence and Villanova have shown both hope and despair. 

DePaul is looking forward to their latest test against no. 5 Butler, who is 15-2 with their lone conference loss coming to Seton Hall. The Bulldogs, led by stars Sean McDermott and Kamar Baldwin will be trying to avenge the 78-70 home loss to the Pirates as they come to Wintrust Arena on Saturday at noon. 

The Blue Demons, 12-5 (0-4), are trying to find their groove in one of the top-to-bottom best conferences in college basketball. Guard Charlie Moore had 29 points and six assists in the 79-75 overtime road loss at Villanova on Tuesday. Junior forward Paul Reed notched his 13th  double-double of the season with an 18-point, 15-rebound effort against the Wildcats. 

Moore and Reed have produced the bulk of the offense this year for DePaul. The two players account for 42 percent of all scoring and Moore is responsible for 46 percent of the team’s assists. Offensive plays run through Moore as Reed and fellow forward Jaylen Butz work down low. Freshman Romeo Weems and senior Jalen Coleman-Lands run the wings. 

The Blue Demons haven’t won a game since Dec. 21 against Northwestern. Butler, before Wednesday, hadn’t lost a game since Dec. 10. Saturday two teams on opposite ends of the standings will collide, and in the Big East, anyone can beat anyone. 

Butler is holding teams to just 55.8 points a game, the lowest mark in the conference by almost nine points. Baldwin and McDermott lead the Bulldogs in scoring, as the team stifles opponents on both ends. Head coach LaVall Jordan has the Bulldogs in the middle of a historic season. The team’s no. 5 ranking in the AP poll was the highest mark in program history. 

A big part of Butler’s rise in the polls has been their defense and homecourt advantage. Hinkle Fieldhouse is always rocking when Butler puts the clamps on their opponents. Butler’s downfall against Seton Hall was a horrid shooting stretch in the second half where they shot less than 30 percent from the field. 

Butler and DePaul have some similarities on the year. The two teams are no. 1 and 2 in the Big East in field goal percentage, as well as limiting teams to under 40 percent from the field. The defense is the driving force for offenses that run through a few players. 

DePaul’s best bet will be to attack inside. Butler doesn’t allow teams to have their fun on the 3-point line. With Reed and Butz, there isn’t much of an excuse to not go inside. Butler has a great rebounding margin, but that’s due to slowing teams down to their own pace. DePaul needs to take control of this game early and establish their defense and offense alike. 

The Blue Demons will face Butler at noon at Wintrust Arena with a broadcast on The U for Chicagoland viewers. The game can also be heard on radiodepaulsports.com and 670 The Score.