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Blue Demons Travel to Southern Miss and Tulane



DePaul (16-6, 5-2) at Southern Miss (9-10, 2-4)

Reed Green Coliseum (8.095) - Hattiesburg, Miss.

Friday, Feb. 7 - 7 p.m.

 

Click here for the internet broadcast.

 

Demons and Eagles

The DePaul Blue Demons go back on the road for a pair of weekend games at Southern Miss and Tulane. The weekend opens in Hattiesburg with a Friday evening contest against the Lady Eagles. DePaul has won two straight following last weekend’s victories over Houston and TCU at the DePaul Athletic Center.

 

DePaul has won nine of the last 12, but have lost their last three road games. In home games, the Blue Demons are 11-0 and winning by an average of 20.7 points per game. On the road, the club sports a 3-5 record.

 

The Southern Miss Lady Eagles stand at 9-10 overall and 2-4 in C-USA play after dropping road contests last weekend at Cincinnati and Louisville. Friday’s date is the ninth meeting between the two programs and the first in Hattiesburg since Feb. 5, 2000. The Lady Eagles have won two of the three meetings at Reed Green Coliseum.

 

Friday’s game and all remaining Conference USA games can be heard live at www.depaulbluedemons.com. Jeff Friedman is in his second season providing all the action and will be joined by Kathryn Statz for games at the DePaul Athletic Center.

 

Noting the Blue Demons

With a win against the Lady Eagles, the Blue Demons would snap a three-game road losing streak... three of the final seven games will be at the DePaul Athletic Center... dating back to last season, the Blue Demons have won eight of their last 11 televised games (5-1 in ‘01-02, 3-2 in ‘02-03)... DePaul’s roster features seven of the 11 players as either freshmen or sophomores... four players are averaging at least 10.4 points per game... seven different players have led the club in scoring this season compared to just three last season... Khara Smith’s six double-doubles leads the Blue Demons and are tied for fifth in Conference USA... cousins, Khara and Charlene Smith have earned C-USA Player of the Week honors... Doug Bruno has used six different lineups, but the same lineup for the last 13 games... DePaul is 31-7 all-time at the DePaul Athletic Center... over that same span, the team is 17-27 away from the Athletic Center... when the Blue Demons outscore their opponent, they are 16-0... the Blue Demons have started 12 of the 22 games with a three-pointer... the club has made 162 three’s this season while opponents have attempted 238... the single-season school record is 230 treys set last year... three players have at least 30 three-pointers... DePaul opened the Montana State game with five consecutive treys and has hit at least 10 three’s in six games (6-0 in those games)... the five-game win streak from Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 14, 2003 was the longest since putting together a five-gamer from Jan. 31-Feb. 16, 1997... the season-opening five-game road trip was the longest to start the season in program history... 1980-81 campaign opened with four straight road games... the Northern Illinois game on Dec. 18 was the first appearance since 1996 at the Allstate Arena... the program is 19-4 all-time in Rosemont... after defeating Southern Illinois, DePaul is 21-8 all-time in season openers... Doug Bruno is 12-5 in first games.

 

Scouting Southern Miss

Southern Miss enters Friday’s game with a 9-10 overall record and 2-4 mark in Conference USA action. Last weekend, the Lady Eagles lost, 63-51, at Cincinnati and 93-61, at Louisville. Southern Miss has lost three straight and five of the last seven.

 

A year ago, Southern Miss posted an overall record of 11-17 and league mark of 4-10. Head coach Rick Reeves is in his fourth season with the Lady Eagles and holds a 49-56 record in Hattiesburg. Dana Jones leads the club with 10.9 points per game while Sonja Brown is averaging 7.3 boards per contest.

 

The Series

DePaul has won six of the eight meetings between the two programs. Friday is just the fourth meeting in Hattiesburg with Southern Miss winning two of the previous three matchups. A year ago, DePaul jumped out to a 55-23 halftime lead in a 100-72 victory. Five Blue Demons were in double-figures led by Lenae Williams’ 31 points.

 

Demon Doings

Notes following DePaul’s 76-68 win against TCU on Feb. 2:

- The Blue Demons are 11-0 at home this season (10-0 at the DePaul Athletic Center, 1-0 at the Allstate Arena).

- For the second consecutive game, the Blue Demons shot over .600 from the field and scored at least 44 points.

- The TCU series now stands at 1-1 with each team winning on their home floor.

- Khara Smith registered her sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Sarah Kustok had a career-high 20 points. Jenni Dant also set a career-best with six assists.

 

White Uniforms or Blue Uniforms??

With a perfect 11-0 home record this season, the Blue Demons have won just three of eight road games. Add that total to a 2-1 record on neutral floors and DePaul stands at 5-9 away from Chicago. In the eight road games, the Blue Demons are shooting .395 compared to .481 on the home court. The club is averaging nearly 18 more points per game at home while opponents are shooting a combined .430 in their own arenas. The club has four of their remaining seven games away from the DePaul Athletic Center.

 

Smith’s Named C-USA Players of the Week

For the third time this season a member of the Smith family from Chicago’s west side has earned Conference USA Player of the Week honors. Former Proviso West High School standouts, and cousins, Charlene and Khara have each claimed the honor this season.

 

Khara earned the recognition for the second time this year after leading the Blue Demons to wins over Houston and TCU. Against Houston, the redshirt freshman was a perfect 10-for-10 from the field in scoring 22 points with five rebounds and a pair of steals. She came back against TCU and notched her sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. For the week, she averaged 17 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting .833 from the field.

 

Khara also claimed the league’s Player of the Week honors following her double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds at Southern Illinois in the season opener. The 6-2 forward scored 12 points in the second half and grabbed eight boards to lead DePaul in the come-from-behind win. She also added five steals while playing just 24 minutes.

 

Charlene Smith picked up the honor the week of Jan. 13 after leading the Blue Demons to a pair of wins over Illinois-Chicago and Marquette. For the week, she averaged 17 points, six rebounds and five steals while shooting .682 from the field. Against the Flames, she dropped in a career-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field.

 

In the Top 25

Throughout the season, the Blue Demons have been receiving votes for the two top 25’s. DePaul finally broke through and entered the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Top 25 the week of Dec. 23. Following defeats on the road at Saint Louis and Memphis, the voters dropped DePaul from each of the weekly polls. Entering that weekend, the club stood at No. 20 in the Coaches poll and 25th in the Associated Press rankings.

DePaul was in the AP poll for the first time since Jan. 20, 1997. The No. 25 ranking on that date was the program’s final national recognition until the appearance in Dec. The Blue Demons were 25th in the AP poll for two weeks.

 

Over the span of three seasons, from 1994-97, DePaul was in and out of the top 25’s. They were ranked as high as 15th in the first two AP polls of the 1995-96 season. The Blue Demons first national ranking was Feb. 29, 1988, when the team was 20th in the AP poll.

 

Fun With Numbers

DePaul is 13-1 when leading at halftime... the lone loss was the 73-71 overtime defeat at Saint Louis... when scoring at least 70 points, the team has won 10 of 11 contests... when holding opponents to less than 70, the record is 15-2... the Blue Demons have won a game on five different days of the week... the best day is Saturday with a 4-0 record... on Friday, DePaul is 4-2 and sports a 5-2 ledger on Sunday’s... the only day without a winning record is Tuesday at 0-1... the Blue Demons haven’t played a game on Thursday this season... when at least three players score in double-figures, the team is 12-3... DePaul made less than five three’s just once this season... the Blue Demons have shot 40 percent or better from the field in 17 games this season while the opponents have managed it on 12 occasions.

 

Nothing but the Best

The Blue Demons once again play one of toughest schedules in the nation and have posted a 2-2 record against teams ranked in the top 25 at tipoff. In Hawaii, the Blue Demons lost to then-No. 11 North Carolina. In Dec., they defeated No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 21 George Washington. In Jan., the Blue Demons traveled to Knoxville and lost to No. 5 Tennessee. The Conference USA slate includes top 25 programs Charlotte, Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville and Tulane.

 

Bowling for Bruno

No, DePaul head coach Doug Bruno is not a bowling fan or movie buff, but he is within range of his 300th win with the Blue Demons. Entering this weekend, he holds 293 career victories with DePaul and could eclipse the 300-win plateau later this season. In his 17th season with the Blue Demons, he stands at 293-192.

 

All in the Family

Cousins Charlene and Khara Smith have provided a spark to the DePaul offense this season. The two former standouts at Proviso West High School have combined for nearly 35 percent of the scoring and rebounding for the Blue Demons this season. Khara has tallied a team-high five double-doubles while Charlene is among team leaders in assists and steals. Both have been named the Conference USA Player of the Week at least once this season.

 

Home Cookin’

In just over two seasons, the DePaul Athletic Center has proven itself as one of the toughest venues in the Midwest. The Blue Demons have posted a 31-7 (.816) home record over 38 games. In their 29th season, the Blue Demons have an all-time home court record of 274-87 (.759). Over 26 seasons at Alumni Hall, the women’s basketball program won over 75 percent of their games with a 242-80 all-time record. At the Allstate Arena, the women’s program has posted an all-time record of 19-4.

 

Taking Advantage From Beyond the Arc

In 22 games, the Blue Demons have outscored their opponents by 222 points from three-point range. So far, DePaul is 162-470 (.345) from behind the arc while opponents are 88-238 (.370). The squad is averaging 7.4 three’s per game while the opposition is making 4.0 treys per contest.

 

Including this season and the last three years, the squad has made 817 (7.3/gm) three’s compared to 385 (3.4/gm) for the opposition.

 

In ‘01-02, the Blue Demons averaged over four more three-point field goals per game than their opponents. As a team, the Blue Demons made 230 three’s compared to just 105 for the opposition. The team total was ranked first on the single-season chart and the team three-point percentage of .353 is third.

 

Giving to Charity

The Blue Demons consistently rank among Conference USA leaders and this season is no different. The squad enters the weekend ranked third with a .709 (302-426) season percentage. At Illinois, the Blue Demons posted a season-best .850 (17-20) percentage from the line and against Northern Illinois went 25-for-30 (.833). Last weekend, the club went a combined 32-of-45 (.711) in wins over Houston and TCU.

 

DePaul was a combined 384-520 (.738) from the free throw line last season to rank first among Conference USA schools for the second straight season. The mark was also the second-best single-season percentage in league history. Over the final 15 contests, the squad shot a combined .770 (217-282).

 

In 2000-01, the Blue Demons also led Conference USA with a .716 overall mark from the free throw line. In league play, DePaul shot .733 and were 241-326 (.739) over their last 19 games.

 

Preseason Picks

In the annual Conference USA Preseason Poll, chosen by the league’s 14 coaches, the Blue Demons are picked to finish seventh. Prior to last season, Bruno’s squad was picked seventh, but entered the league tournament as the fourth seed. Houston’s Chandi Jones was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year and joined on the preseason all-league team by Sandora Irvin (TCU), Valerie King (Cincinnati), Teana McKiver (Tulane) and Sara Nord (Louisville).

 

TV Time

At least five games will be televised this season, including three on the Conference USA Television Network. DePaul will appear on the league network in games against TCU and Marquette and at Louisville. The Charlotte game on Feb. 14 will be televised on FOX Sports Net Chicago. The C-USA Network will broadcast the tournament semifinals while the championship game will be carried live from The Pyramid in Memphis on ESPN2, Mar. 9.

 

So far this season, DePaul has posted a 3-2 record on television. The club defeated Notre Dame, Valparaiso and TCU while falling at Tennessee and Saint Louis.

 

Against the Top 10 at the DePaul Athletic Center

The month of December means top 10 teams at the DePaul Athletic Center. On Dec. 11, the Blue Demons toppled eighth-ranked Notre Dame, 75-59, for the first top 10 victory in the three-year old DePaul Athletic Center. A year ago, the Blue Demons entertained No. 7 Purdue and No. 2 Tennessee in the span of three days. The Boilermakers escaped the Athletic Center with a 63-61 win after trailing, 30-22, at halftime. Two days later, the Blue Demons trailed the Lady Vols by eight with just over seven minutes left before Tennessee went on a late run to seal the victory, 80-66.

 

Prior to the Notre Dame victory, DePaul’s last win over a top 10 opponent was Dec. 14, 1996, when the Blue Demons toppled No. 3 Louisiana Tech, 70-67, in Alumni Hall.

 

Tourney Wraps

The Blue Demons played in a pair of tournaments earlier this season winning two of three games at the Hawaiian Airlines Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu and winning the Moran Realty Classic in Chicago.

 

After a tourney-opening loss to No. 11 North Carolina in Hawai’i, the Blue Demons bounced back and claimed fifth place in the eight-team event. DePaul defeated Fordham, 92-73, and Denver, 55-44, in the consolation bracket.

 

Sophomore forward Jenni Dant was named to the All-Tournament team after leading the Blue Demons with 13 points and five rebounds per game. She joined a host of the nation’s top players as a member of the eight-player squad. In a rematch of last year’s national championship game, Connecticut defeated Oklahoma. UConn’s Diana Taurasi was named the tourney’s MVP.

 

DePaul opened the home portion of the schedule by winning the Moran Realty Classic. Convincingly, the Blue Demons posted wins over Loyola-Chicago, 87-59, on Friday and Montana State, 85-55, in the championship game. Redshirt freshman Khara Smith was named MVP and joined Charlene Smith and Ashley Luke on the All-Tournament team.

 

State Streak Ends

The Blue Demons streak of 14 consecutive victories against opponents from the state of Illinois ended on Dec. 4, 2003 at Illinois. With the wins over Illinois-Chicago, Loyola-Chicago, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Southern Illinois, the Blue Demons are 5-1 this season. Last season, DePaul knocked off Illinois, Loyola-Chicago, Northern Illinois and Northwestern. In 2000-01, the club went a perfect 6-0 against state programs.

 

Prior to the loss at Illinois, DePaul’s last loss was Dec. 10, 1999, when Illinois posted a 74-64 win over the Blue Demons in Champaign.

 

DePaul has won 24 of the last 26 contests with state schools. Over the stretch of 25 games, DePaul has defeated Loyola and Northern Illinois five times, Illinois-Chicago four times, and Illinois, Northwestern and Southern Illinois three times each. They have also knocked off Chicago State once. The lone two losses are to Illinois in Champaign.

 

Looking Ahead

DePaul signed two players to a National Letter of Intent in the early signing period. Both newcomers next season are from the Chicago area. Head coach Doug Bruno signed 5-9 guard Ciara (pronounced Sierra) Johnson from Trinity High School and 6-1 guard Jenna Rubino out of Lincoln-Way East.

 

Entering her senior season at Trinity, Johnson was rated by the Chicago Sun-Times as one of the top 10 Underrated Players in the state of Illinois. As a junior, she averaged 11.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game while shooting over 60 percent from the field.

 

A McDonald’s All-American nominee, Rubino returns for her senior year at Lincoln Way-East after averaging 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game a year ago. Prior to this season, she was named to the “Tremendous 26” which recognizes the top 13 girls and boys players in Illinois.