Friars at DePaul: Getting Back on Track
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Game time: Saturday, February 1 at 1:00 pm
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
Television: Fox Sports (Cox)
Radio: 103.7 WEEI
A quick turnaround may be the best situation for the Providence College Friars as they will attempt to quickly get over their worst shooting night of the season on Saturday afternoon against DePaul. Coming off a 61-50 loss to Marquette where PC shot just 32% from the field and 55% from the free throw line, they will look to rebound against one of the Big East's perennial second-tier teams. The Blue Demons, however, defeated the Friars 83-73 in the teams' only meeting last season at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
DePaul enters Saturday's matchup with a 10-11 record, 2-6 in conference, and all but two of their eleven losses came by double-digits. Currently riding a three game losing streak, DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell is beginning to feel the heat from the seat beneath him. Through nearly four years as head coach, Purnell's teams are 35 games under .500 since he took over in 2010 (40-75). Their only two conference wins, this season, came against Butler and St. John's, two other potential Big East bottom-feeders.
Since DePaul joined the Big East in 2005, Providence owns a 7-3 record against the Blue Demons - 3-1 when the teams have met in Chicago.
The player to watch for Purnell's Blue Demons is senior forward Cleveland Melvin, who is averaging a team leading 16.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. Melvin has recorded more than 10 points in all but four of DePaul's 21 games this season, but missed their last game (an 86-69 loss to Seton Hall last Saturday) due to a team suspension. Additionally, freshman guard Billy Garrett, Jr. - one of the top rookie players in the Big East this season - and junior guard Charles McKinney could also miss the game. Garrett has been ill, while McKinney has an ankle injury.
For Providence, shooting efficiency will be a must if they want to keep themselves in the NCAA Tournament conversation. On Thursday night, PC experienced one of its worst shooting halves in school history when they managed just 14 points in the game's first half. That total was the lowest scoring half since the 2002 Friars put up just 11 points in the first twenty minutes of play in a game against UConn.
Besides regaining their shooting touch, a key for the Friars will be Kadeem Batts. In Providence's three conference losses, the senior power forward is averaging just 7.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. In their five victories, Batts averages over 15 points and 9 rebounds a contest.
Look for Ed Cooley to get Batts involved early, to hopefully get the big man back on track.