Blue Demons meet the Huskies for second straight year in first game of BIG EAST Championship
March 5, 2012
NEW YORK - DePaul faces Connecticut for the second straight year to open the BIG EAST Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters. The Blue Demons are the No. 16 seed while Connecticut is the No. 9 seed with the two sides squaring off at Noon ET at Madison Square Garden. The Huskies knocked off DePaul, 97-71, a year ago in the same matchup en route to winning five games in five days to win the tournament title.
DePaul is 12-18 overall and finished 3-15 in BIG EAST play while Connecticut is 18-12 overall and recorded an 8-10 in league action this season. Tuesday is the ninth meeting between the two schools with the Huskies holding a 7-1 advantage in the series. Connecticut defeated DePaul, 80-54, at Gampel Pavilion on Feb. 15.
All of the action can be heard on WIND (560 AM) in Chicago with Zach Zaidman (play-by-play) and Jeff Blanzy (analyst) providing the audio description. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN3D with Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Doris Burke (analyst) and Andy Katz (reporter) handling the television broadcast.
Audio streaming of the radio call and live stats are also available online at www.depaulbluedemons.com. In-game scoring updates and notes can be followed as well at www.twitter.com/depaulsid. The television broadcast is also available online at ESPN3.com and on DePaul's Facebook page - facebook.com/depaulbluedemons.
The winner of Tuesday's game advances to the second round to play eighth-seeded West Virginia at Noon ET. DePaul lost at West Virginia a week ago by a 92-75 score on Feb. 28.
BIG EAST Championship History: The DePaul Blue Demons make their fifth appearance at Madison Square Garden for the BIG EAST Championship. DePaul is 1-4 all-time in BIG EAST postseason play with a second-round appearance in 2009.
The eighth-seeded Blue Demons dropped a 75-67 decision to ninth-seeded Villanova on Mar. 7, 2007 in their first BIG EAST Tournament game. Two years ago as the 16th seed, DePaul topped ninth-seeded Cincinnati, 67-57, before falling in the second round to No. 8 seed Providence by a score of 83-74. In each of the last two seasons, DePaul has lost its opening game as the No. 16 seed. A year ago, the first round saw ninth-seeded Connecticut defeat the 16th-seeded Blue Demons, 97-71, as the Huskies won five games in five days to claim the tournament title.
Conference Tournament History: The BIG EAST Championship is the third conference tournament for the men's basketball program at DePaul University. Previously, the Blue Demons competed in postseason events in the Great Midwest Conference (1992-95) and Conference USA (1996-05).
DePaul holds a 9-17 all-time record in conference tourney action with two appearances in conference tournament championship games in 2000 and 2004. The Blue Demons dropped a 56-49 decision to Saint Louis in the 2000 Conference USA title game before a 55-50 defeat against Cincinnati in the 2004 Conference USA finals.
Notables: DePaul's most common conference tournament opponent is Cincinnati... the Blue Demons are 1-4 all-time against the Bearcats in conference tournament action... DePaul is also 2-2 all-time against UAB and 1-2 against Memphis in league tournaments... the upset over Cincinnati as the No. 16 seed in the 2009 BIG EAST Championship marked the first time in conference tournament play of such an occurrence... Will Walker's 31 points and Dar Tucker's 30 in the second round of the 2009 second-round game against Cincinnati was the first time that two players from the same team had scored at least 30 points in a BIG EAST Championship game... in two of DePaul's five BIG EAST tourney games, the Blue Demons have scored 67 points... the Blue Demons enter the 2012 tournament with just eight total games of BIG EAST Championship experience... four of those games belong to senior Jeremiah Kelly.
Noting the Blue Demons: The men's basketball program is 1,384-879 (.612) all-time... the Blue Demons have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 578 straight games... DePaul's last game without a three was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena... the Blue Demons are 311-141 (.688) all-time in Rosemont... DePaul is 6-1 (.857) all-time in games at McGrath-Phillips Arena... DePaul's 9-3 start during the non-conference schedule was the best through 12 games since the 1999-00 squad also started 9-3... over the last 25 seasons, only three teams have started with nine or more wins in the first 12 games... the Blue Demons currently hold a seven-game winning streak against Chicagoland programs that includes victories over Chicago State, UIC, Loyola and Northern Illinois... in each of Oliver Purnell's two seasons at DePaul, the Blue Demons have faced three Chicagoland opponents during the non-conference portion of the schedule with wins in each meeting... Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young have each scored at least 20 points in six games this season... the Blue Demons are 3-3 in those games... DePaul is 8-3 this season with at least four players in double-figures and 5-1 with 10 or more three-pointers... the three losses with four in double-figures occurred against Marquette, Notre Dame and Providence... DePaul has used nine different starting lineups this season with every non-injured scholarship player starting at least one game.
It Could Happen: A win snaps a three-game losing streak in the BIG EAST Championship... Jeremiah Kelly needs three three's to move into a tie with Brandon Cole (1991-95) for fourth all-time... with one steal, Kelly moved into a three-way tie for sixth on the career steals list... Brandon Young needs three assists to move into a tie for 22nd with Joe Ponsetto (1975-78, 264 assists)... Ponsetto is the husband of DePaul athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto.
Demon Doings: Notes following DePaul's 86-58 win against Seton Hall on Mar. 3:
- The win is the Blue Demons' largest margin of victory in the BIG EAST since a 108-69 victory over Syracuse on Mar. 2, 2006... the 13-point halftime lead is DePaul's largest in a BIG EAST game this season... in seven of its last 10 games, DePaul has either been tied or had a lead at the half.
- Jeremiah Kelly finished with 15 points and 10 assists for his first career double-double.
- Seton Hall's 58 points are the fewest allowed by DePaul in a BIG EAST game this season... it is the fewest points allowed by DePaul in a BIG EAST game since Jan. 20, 2010 in a 51-50 win over Marquette.
- Jamee Crockett led DePaul with a career-high 21 points...finished 7-of-10 from the field and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
- DePaul finished 10-of-26 from three-point range... moves to 5-1 when hitting 10 or more threes in a single game.
- Saturday's game concluded DePaul's 32nd season at Allstate Arena... the Blue Demons are now 311-141 (.688) all time in Rosemont.
- The 28-point loss is the Pirates' largest this season... had previously lost by 23 points at Connecticut on Feb. 4.
- Saturday's meeting was the 11th between the two programs...the Pirates still hold an 8-3 advantage in the series.
The Opponent - Connecticut Huskies: Connecticut enters the BIG EAST Championship at 18-12 overall and 8-10 in BIG EAST play... the Huskies are the tournament's No. 9 seed for the second straight season... a year ago, Connecticut put together a five-day, five-game run to win the tournament title... Jeremy Lamb leads the team with 17.6 points per game while Shabazz Napier adds a 12.4 scoring average... Ryan Boatright chips in with 10.3 points per game... Andre Drummond leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game while Napier has a team-high 177 assists... head coach Jim Calhoun is in his 26th season leading the Connecticut program.
The Series: DePaul and Connecticut meet for the ninth time on Tuesday afternoon... the Huskies holds a 7-1 advantage in the series with six straight wins... the first meeting between the two sides was in the second round of the NCAA Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.... Connecticut topped DePaul, 72-55, in a game that saw Jim Calhoun face former assistant Dave Leitao... Leitao was head coach at DePaul from 2002-05.
The Last Meeting: Connecticut knocked off DePaul, 80-54, in Storrs on Feb. 12, 2012... DePaul was held to a season-low 24 points in the first half and trailed Connecticut, 34-24, at intermission... UConn opened the second half on a 15-4 run and led 49-29... Shabazz Napier (14 pts./ 11 asts.) and Alex Oriakhi (14 pts./10 rebs.) each recorded a double-double... Jeremy Lamb led all scorers with 18 points... Jeremiah Kelly scored 16 to lead the Blue Demons... Cleveland Melvin added 11 points.
Mikan, Aguirre, Booth, Kleinschmidt, Richardson... Melvin: After being named 2011 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, DePaul sophomore Cleveland Melvin has avoided the `sophomore slump' in his second collegiate season. He currently leads the team with 17.4 points, 7.3 rebounds per game, 32.0 minutes per game and 34 blocked shots. Over the last 10 games, the Baltimore native is averaging nearly a double-double with 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest.
Melvin reached the 500-point plateau at West Virginia on Feb. 28 for just the 33rd instance of a 500-point season in program history. Entering the Connecticut game, he is ranked sixth on DePaul's sophomore season scoring list with 522 points in 30 games.
Brandon First Since Rod: With a career-high 11 assists against St. John's on Feb. 1, sophomore Brandon Young became the first player since Rod Strickland to record at least 100 assists in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons at DePaul. Strickland (1985-88) dished out 159 assists as a freshman in 1985-86 and 196 assists during his sophomore season in 1986-87. Young totaled 115 assists during his rookie campaign last season and enters the Connecticut game with 146 assists this season. The 146 assists in 2011-12 are the most since Imari Sawyer totaled 179 assists during the 2000-01 season.
It's Been Awhile: Through 30 games in the 2011-12 campaign, the current edition of DePaul basketball is posting some numbers that haven't been seen in some time for the Blue Demons:
- DePaul's scoring average of 74.4 points per game is the highest since a 79.2 scoring average during the 1994-95 season.
- DePaul's 7.9 steals per game and 15.4 assists per game are the highest season averages dating back to the 2002-03 season.
- DePaul's team .691 free throw percentage is the highest since a .700 mark during the 2005-06 season.
- DePaul's 7.2 three's per game are the most since the 2007-08 team averaged 7.7 per game.
- DePaul's 12 wins are the most since the 2006-07 squad posted 20 victories... the three road wins are the most since the 2007-08 team went 3-9 on the road... DePaul's three BIG EAST victories are the most since a 6-12 league record in 2007-08.
Kelly Joins Three-Pointer/Assist Short List: With one three-pointer and three assists against Syracuse on Jan. 1, DePaul senior guard Jeremiah Kelly joined two other players that have recorded at least 130 career three's and 300 assists.
Entering the Connecticut game, Kelly has compiled 152 three-pointers and 362 assists in 122 career games. Those numbers put Kelly at fifth on DePaul's career three-point field goal list and 10th on the career assist chart. Brandon Cole (1991-95) was the first player to record the combination over his career with 155 three's and 351 assists. He was followed by Peter Patton (1992-96) with 134 three's and 313 helpers.
Rolling with Honors: The sophomore duo of Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young have picked up BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll mentions a combined four times this season. Melvin has been selected three times while Young was named to the five-member on one occasion. A year ago, the duo combined to earn BIG EAST Rookie of the Week six times - the second-highest total for a BIG EAST program since the start of the 2005-06 season.
Melvin and Young are the nation's highest-scoring sophomore duo with a combined 32.2 points per game through the end of the regular season. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas are second in the country with 30.9 points per game. Through 30 games, Melvin and Young have accounted for 43.3 percent of DePaul's scoring this season.
In the BIG EAST statistical rankings through the end of the regular season, Melvin is sixth in scoring (17.4 ppg) and 12th in rebounding (7.3 rpg) while Young is ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.03), ninth in assists (4.87 apg) and 14th in scoring (14.8 ppg).
Q Extends NBA Streak to 37 Straight: With Quentin Richardson (1998-00) logging five minutes in Orlando's opener on Dec. 25 at Oklahoma City, he extended DePaul's streak to 37 straight seasons with a former Blue Demon playing in the NBA. Bill Robinzine started the streak with Sacramento Kings in the 1975-76 season. A total of 17 players have played over the 37 straight years of DePaul influence in the NBA.
In addition to Richardson playing this season for Orlando, Tyrone Corbin (1981-85) is in his first full season as head coach of the Utah Jazz. Corbin replaced Jerry Sloan during the season a year ago when Sloan announced his retirement. Corbin played for nine NBA team during his pro career from 1985-01.
Earlier last week, Bobby Simmons (1998-01) signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers where he was named the NBA's Most Improved Player following the 2004-05 season.
Three Decades in Rosemont: DePaul finished its 32nd season in 2011-12 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. The Blue Demons are 311-141 (.688) all-time in Rosemont. DePaul played its first season at the then-named Rosemont Horizon in 1980. The Blue Demons debuted in Rosemont with a 74-56 win over Gonzaga and John Stockton on Dec. 1, 1980.