GAME NOTES: The DePaul Blue Demons will try to turn around a three-game losing streak as they host the Providence Friars in Big East Conference action at the Allstate Arena.
Providence had a five-game win streak come to an end Thursday night in a 61-50 loss to Marquette. Providence is 5-3 in Big East play this season - two and a half games behind Creighton for the conference's top spot.
DePaul had dropped three is a row and six of its last eight altogether. The Blue Demons were easily disposed of by Seton Hall last Saturday, 86-69, in a Big East tilt. At 2-6 in the conference standings, the Blue Demons are currently second to last in the Big East.
Providence has a solid grip on the all-time series lead between the two programs, 22-8. They'll meet again this season on Feb. 15 in Providence as part of the two-game season series.
After starting 0-2 in Big East play, the Friars went on to win their next five in conference action, but had a second-half comeback attempt fall short against Marquette in Milwaukee. Bryce Cotton led all scorers in the game with 20 points, dishing out a team-best four assists in the losing effort. LaDontae Henton netted 18 points, while Tyler Harris pulled down a team-best 11 boards. The Friars were terrible shooting the ball in the contest, connecting on just 32.8 percent of their field goal attempts.
Cotton has been a force this season for Providence, leading the team in scoring and assists. Cotton nets an average of 20.5 ppg on the year, including a team-best 22.1 ppg in conference play. His 122 assists is by far the most on the team. Henton checks in at second in team scoring with 13.6 ppg, and second in rebounding at Kadeem Batts with 7.3 rpg. Batts totals 7.6 rpg and 12.4 ppg - good for fourth on the Friars.
DePaul was missing three regular starters against Seton Hall in the double- digit loss to the Pirates Saturday, due to illness, injury and suspension. The Blue Demons couldn't find their shooting touch early, and fell behind as a result. They went into the half down 45-25 to Seton Hall. Brandon Young netted 23 points to pace the Blue Demons, adding five rebounds in the effort. R.J. Curington scored 15 points, and Durrell McDonald chipped in 14. DePaul connected on 41.8 percent of its shot attempts on the night.
Cleveland Melvin leads the team in scoring this season with 16.7 ppg on 47.1 percent shooting from the floor. His 6.4 rpg is also a team best, along with his 31 blocked shots. Young checks in at second on the squad with 14.6 ppg, but is hitting just 22.6 percent from 3-point range. Young is the team leader in assists having dished out 76 this season. Billy Garrett is third in scoring and the final player netting double-digit point totals.
The loss to Marquette set the Friars back, since they could have passed Xavier in the Big East standings with a win. Providence should feel pretty good about going into DePaul with a very good shot at winning, especially if Cotton, Henton and the rest of the starting lineup is on point.
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