Piscataway, N.J. – After three consecutive home games, Rutgers (13-10, 4-8) returns to the rugged road of the BIG EAST to meet DePaul (10-14, 1-10) Saturday afternoon in a 1 p.m. (12 noon local) tip-off at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. The Scarlet Knights will be working to earn their second consecutive victory, while the Blue Demons will be looking to snap a string of nine straight defeats, including three overtime losses. RU enters the contest with its strength of schedule estimated 22nd nationally.
The game will be televised live nationally in high definition on ESPNU and via the web at WatchESPN.com with Beth Mowins calling the action and Tim Welsh providing the analysis. On the radio, the contest will be broadcast live on the Rutgers Radio Network, WOR 710 AM in New York and WCTC 1450 AM in New Brunswick, as well as on Sirius 132 and XM 194. Chris Carlin will serve as play-by-play announcer and Dick Lloyd will provide commentary. WRSU (88.7) will also broadcast the game.
Saturday afternoon’s contest marks the ninth meeting between Rutgers and DePaul on the hardwood since 2006, with the Scarlet Knights leading the series 5-3. Rutgers has won four of the last five in the series and is 3-1 on the Blue Demons’ home court. Three of the last four meeting have been decided by five points or less. Last season, Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J.) shot 8-of-14, including 5-of-9 from behind the arc to score 22 points, but it was not enough as Rutgers dropped a 69-64 decision to DePaul at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights led by as many as 11 points in the second half, but a 16-4 run by the Blue Demons enabled the visitors to escape with the victory. DePaul shot 56 percent after the break, while committing just five turnovers, and scored seven of the game’s final nine points.
Rutgers is coming off a hard-fought 57-55 home victory over Seton Hall on Tuesday night. Ten players scored for the Scarlet Knights and seven issued blocked shots, as RU totaled 11 rejections. Rutgers never trailed and led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but had to hold off a late charge by the Pirates. Dane Miller (Rochester, N.Y.) scored his 1000th career point, while fellow senior Austin Johnson (Elkins Park, Pa.) earned the Joe Calabrese Memorial Game MVP honor after playing solid defense and scoring eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J.) posted 14 points and Mack contributed 10 to pace the home squad in the scoring column. RU limited SHU to 36.7 (18-of-49) shooting.
Mack leads the BIG EAST in free throw percentage (.929), while also placing second in three-point field goal percentage (.453), eighth in steals (1.78) and 12th in field goal percentage (.495). He is first among the league’s guards in field goal percentage. Mack would be third nationally in free throw percentage, but is just shy of qualifying for the rankings. Carter is second in the BIG EAST free throw percentage (.869) and 10th in scoring (15.4). In conference only games, sophomore guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) is second in the the BIG EAST in three-point field goal percentage (.447).
DePaul, under the leadership of third-year head coach Oliver Purnell, is coming off an 82-78 overtime loss Wednesday night at No. 21 Notre Dame. It marked the Blue Demons second overtime defeat to the Irish in 12 days. In both games, DePaul forced the extra session after trailing by double figures in the second half. Forward Cleveland Melvin scored a game-high 23 points and guard Brandon Young added 20 points, six assists and three steals. Young is seventh in the BIG EAST in scoring (16.7), while Melvin is eighth (16.6). DePaul is creating 8.38 steals-per-game, which is third in the league rankings.