The DePaul Blue Demons (10-6, 1-3) need to play their best basketball when they take on the talented No. 15 Louisville Cardinals on Saturday. Louisville has struggled at the outset of the Big East season, dropping three of their first four conference games and most recently getting upset by the Providence Fryers by a score of 90-59. The Cardinals will be without their leading scorer, senior forward Kyle Kuric, who will miss the game due to a high ankle sprain suffered in practice, but the Russ Smith should be ready to pick up the slack.
Even with the team struggling, Louisville fans find this to be a favorable home matchup for the Cardinals, and the primary reason is that DePaul has been pushing the pace. Louisville thrives in an up-tempo setting, as Card Chronicle explains:
For starters, DePaul's lost 29 of their last 30 Big East road games and 33 in a row against Top 25 opponents since an 84-76 win over #17 Villanova on Jan. 3, 2008. Gross.
Secondly, the most noticeable change this year for DePaul is head coach Oliver Purnell's tempo. After four games, DePaul's averaging almost 78 possessions per 40 minutes in Big East play. Last year, they averaged just 67. Furthermore, the Blue Demons are actually very successful at turning ballhandlers over in their full court press this season, as their +4.4 turnover margin suggests. But they're also allowing an average of 87.3 points a game in conference play so far and have a problematic -6.4 rebounding margin overall. Does Purnell continue pushing the pace in the KFC Yum!? For all my little Russelmaniacs, I hope so, brother.
If DePaul hopes to pull off another upset, they will need to get big games from Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young.
Game date, time: 3:00 p.m. CT, Saturday, Jan. 14th, 2012
Location: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
TV: Big East Network
Radio: 670 AM
Spread: Louisville is currently favored by 15.5 points. The over/under for the game is currently set at 148 points.
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