DePaul Travels to Vanderbilt for Saturday Matinee
CHICAGO - The DePaul Blue Demons play their first true road game of the season on Saturday afternoon at Vanderbilt. DePaul played three games away from Allstate Arena two weeks ago on a neutral floor at the Paradise Jam. The Blue Demons opened the month of December with a 58-50 win over Alabama State on Wednesday night after posting a 4-1 mark in November.
The Blue Demons are 5-1 early in the season while Vanderbilt enters the game with a 5-1 record as well. Saturday is the third all-time meeting between the two programs with DePaul returning the favor after Vanderbilt visited Rosemont two seasons ago. The Commodores have claimed both meetings including a 91-85 overtime decision on Dec. 12, 2007 at Allstate Arena.
Saturday's game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start and can be heard on WSCR (670 AM) in Chicagoland and worldwide on Blue Tube at www.depaulbluedemons.com. Zach Zaidman (play-by-play) and Laurence Holmes (analyst) call all of the action from Memorial Gym in Nashville. Vanderbilt is also providing live video and live stats online at www.vucommodores.com. In-game scoring updates and notes can also be found at www.twitter.com/depaulsid.
DePaul's non-conference schedule this season has plenty of SEC flavor as the Blue Demons have already played Tennessee in the Virgin Islands. DePaul dropped a 57-53 decision to the Volunteers on Nov. 20. Following the Vanderbilt game, the Blue Demons play their third and final SEC opponent of the regular season on Thursday night in Tampa, Fla. DePaul takes on Mississippi State at the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational on ESPN2.
Road Openers: Saturday's game at Vanderbilt is the latest road opener for the Blue Demons in over a decade... the Dec. 5 date for the first road game is the latest in the since the first away game of the 1993-94 campaign... that squad played the first five games at home before traveling to Jacksonville on Dec. 18, 1993... the Blue Demons posted a 90-83 win in that game.
Noting the Blue Demons: The men's basketball program is 1,362-815 (.626) all-time... the Blue Demons have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 496 straight games... DePaul's last game without a three was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena... Will Walker has started 39 straight games... the win over Columbia in the season opener ended an 18-game losing streak in regular-season games... the Blue Demons have won four of their first five games in two straight seasons... in three of Jerry Wainwright's four seasons at DePaul, the Blue Demons have defeated at least one top 25 opponent... DePaul has played its first home game on Nov. 17 in each of the last four seasons.
BIG EAST Beast: In most prognosticators eyes, the BIG EAST Conference might not be as strong as a year ago, but the league is flexing its muscles early in the 2009-10 campaign. BIG EAST programs reeled off 41 straight wins to start the 2009-10 season before Providence lost in overtime, 84-75, at Alabama on Nov. 20. Entering Friday's action, the conference is a combined 91-12 (.884) this season.
It Could Happen: Will Walker is making his 40th straight start... a win would make DePaul 6-1 for the first time to start the season since the 1993-94 season... that team started the season 10-1.
Demon Doings: Notes following DePaul's 58-50 overtime win over Alabama State on Dec. 2:
The Defense Rests: Through the first four games of the season, the DePaul defense held each opponent to less than 60 points. The last team to accomplish the feat was in Ray Meyer's last season as head coach of the Blue Demons. Meyer's squad posted four straight sub-60 games from Mar. 1-10, 1984.
In the overtime win over Detroit on Nov. 28, the Blue Demons held the Titans to 58 points through 40 minutes before winning the game, 68-66, in overtime. DePaul followed that effort up by limiting Alabama State to just 50 points in the win on Dec. 2.
Through games of Nov. 30, the Blue Demons are ranked 12th in the NCAA rankings by allowing just 55.8 points per game. Heading into the Vanderbilt game, the defense is allowing just 54.8 points per outing. While it's early in the season, the 54.8 mark is the best defensive effort since the 1948-49 Blue Demons held opponents to 51.1 points per game.
Protecting the Ball: In addition to the stingy defense, the Blue Demons are averaging just 9.3 turnovers per game through six games this season. DePaul's three primary point guards - Michael Bizoukas, Jeremiah Kelly and Will Walker - hold a combined 2.19-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Kelly has totaled 19 assists to just three turnovers in 32.3 minutes per game this season. His 6.33-to-1 ratio leads the BIG EAST ahead of Notre Dame's Tory Jackson with a 3.80-to-1 ratio. In the Nov. 30 NCAA statistical rankings, the Blue Demons are eighth nationally with just 10.4 turnovers per game.
Starting Where He Left Off: One of the keys to the 2009-10 season for the DePaul basketball team in the continued production of Will Walker. The senior guard closed the 2008-09 campaign strong by averaging 24.8 points per game over the final four games. He shot .463 (38-82) from the field and .405 (15-37) from behind the arc in the final two regular-season games at West Virginia and Georgetown and in BIG EAST Championship games against Cincinnati and Providence.
In BIG EAST play, he averaged 16.4 points per game while ranking second with a .443 (54-122) percentage from three-point range. He was also ranked among league leaders in conference games only in three-point field goals per game (t3rd - 3.00/game), steals (t8th - 1.78 spg) and scoring (t11th - 16.4 ppg).
He posted a career-high 30 points against Marquette only to top that with 31 points at West Virginia and against Providence in the BIG EAST Championship second round. Walker reached double-figures in 15 league games and in addition to the 30-point outings, he's also registered a pair of 23-point games at Rutgers and against Villanova. In eight conference contests, Walker has knocked down at least four three-pointers including a the career-high six trifectas against Villanova on Feb. 25 before a bettering that effort with seven trifectas at West Virginia on Mar. 4.
Through six games in the 2009-10 campaign, Walker leads the Blue Demons with 17.3 points per game. In his last three games, he is averaging 22.0 points per game while shooting .500 (8-16) from three-point range. He totaled a season-high 25 points against Saint Joseph's in the Paradise Jam consolation game before a 20-point effort against Detroit and 21 points against Alabama State. Dating back to last season, Walker has scored at least 20 points in seven of the last 12 games.