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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 21, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moon Palace Resort (990) -- Cancun, Mexico. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: WKU 2-0, DePaul 2-1. Away Record: WKU 0-1, DePaul 0-0. Neutral Record: WKU 0-1, DePaul 0-1. Conference Record: WKU 0-0, DePaul 0-0. Series Record: DePaul leads, 10-5.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and DePaul Blue Demons will both try to end their trip to the Cancun Challenge on a positive note when they square off in the Riviera Division third place game at Moon Palace Resort.
This will be the 16th meeting between these schools in a series that has been idle since the 1995-1996 season. DePaul holds a sizeable 10-5 edge all-time.
Western Kentucky tried to play catch up throughout the entire game but just could not close the gap as it was taken down, 63-55 by Iowa in the first round on Tuesday. The setback ended the Hilltoppers' short two-game winning streak that consisted of lopsided victories over Austin Peay and Western Carolina in the mainland portion of the tournament. WKU is now 2-2 overall on the season heading into the final portion of this event. The only tournament game WKU had lost under Ray Harper prior to Tuesday came last season in the NCAA Tournament to eventual champion Kentucky.
Oliver Purnell's Blue Demons cannot be happy with their 2-2 start to the season. Although other power conference teams such as Villanova and North Carolina were also taken down by mid-majors on Tuesday, DePaul cannot be at ease after already suffering a 12-point loss to Gardner-Webb at home and a 75-62 setback to Wichita State in the semifinal round on Tuesday. The Blue Demons were held to 30 percent shooting from the field in the game and outrebounded 27-10 over the final 20 minutes by the Shockers. DePaul has been very up-and-down on the offensive end in its first four games. It has averaged 94.5 ppg in its wins and just 60.5 ppg in its losses.
The Sun Belt Conference's Hilltoppers looked like they were overmatched from the start versus Iowa. They went into halftime trailing by eight points after converting just 8-of-28 from the field before the break. Meanwhile, Iowa drained 4-of-7 from three-point range to build the early lead. WKU played much better after the intermission, but it still only tied the Big Ten program over the final 20 minutes. WKU lost the rebounding battle by six boards and made only 5-of-21 from deep in the loss. It did however force the Hawkeyes into 18 turnovers. T.J. Price and Jamal Crook continued their early season scoring prowess by finishing with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Crook also added a game-high six assists. WKU needs more from George Fant (nine points, 4-of-11 FG), Brandon Harris (1-of-7 3PT), and Teeng Akol (four points, 18 minutes) in the next round.
DePaul could not buy a bucket in Tuesday's loss as it made only 15-of-49 field goal attempts which was brought down by a poor 5-of-22 connection rate from beyond the arc. Wichita State exposed DePaul's weak interior by outscoring the Big East program in the paint, 44-8. Although Brandon Young struggled from the floor (4-of-14), he still managed to score a game-high 19 points by making 10- of-12 attempts at the free throw line. He also rounded out his stat line with six rebounds and four assists. Cleveland Melvin had a disappointing performance with just 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting (5-of-10 FT) and eight rebounds. The talented forward came into the game averaging 20 ppg. He now needs two points to reach 1,000 for his career.
The Blue Demons and Hilltoppers had similar performances in their first round losses. Western Kentucky has been decent defensively this season. If it can force the poor-shooting version of the Blue Demons from Tuesday to reappear, DePaul will suffer its third loss in five games.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: DePaul 75, Western Kentucky 68
11/21 10:33:50 ET
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