DePaul returns to action after nearly a week off when it hosts Youngstown State in a non-conference contest Saturday afternoon. The Blue Demons snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Portland in their PK80 Invitational finale, while the Penguins come in on a four-game losing skid.
Youngstown State has been able to score, averaging 80.6 points, but it’s also giving up 82.1 points per contest and allowing teams to shoot 50.3 percent from the field. Guards Cameron Morse and Braun Hartfield are the top scorers for coach Jerrod Calhoun, averaging 14.5 and 14.4 points, respectively. DePaul coach Dave Leitao has four double-figure scorers in his starting lineup, led by Max Strus’ 14.8 points and Eli Cain’s 12.2. Strus likes to bomb away from beyond the arc, with 49 of his 70 shot attempts coming from 3-point land, but he’s only hit 16 (32.7 percent) and the Blue Demons as a team are connecting on just 30 percent of their 3-point attempts.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Network
ABOUT YOUNGSTOWN STATE (2-6): It wouldn’t be a surprise if Calhoun mixed up his lineup a bit against the Blue Demons after his starting five finished with just 39 points on 14-of-42 shooting from the field in a loss to Robert Morris. Meanwhile, Devin Haygood scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Garrett Covington had 12, hitting 4-of-6, to power the bench. Haygood played his season high in minutes (25) and scored in double figures for the third time this season, leading some to believe he could be in line for a spot in the starting lineup sometime soon.
ABOUT DEPAUL (2-4): Despite a 1-2 record, DePaul came away from the PK80 Invitational feeling positive, especially with the emergence of 6-11 senior center Marin Maric, a graduate transfer from Northern Illinois. Maric averaged 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in the three games in Portland, including his first double-double with the Blue Demons. After scoring just 11 points combined in the team’s first two contests and averaging 7.6 points over the first three, his breakout stretch in Portland has Leitao feeling a lot better about his front line.
1. DePaul freshman F Jaylen Butz came off the bench to score a career-high 11 points in the win over Portland.
2. The Blue Demons have made a 3-pointer in 745 straight contests and hit a season-best 12 from beyond the arc against Portland.
3. Strus has been excellent from the free-throw line, hitting 23-of-25 for a team-best 92 percent.
PREDICTION: DePaul 82, Youngstown State 70