KEEP AN EYE ON
Wrong side of history: The DePaul men’s basketball team has secured its place in history as the unenviable answer to a trivia question: Who did Georgetown beat to end its 28-game Big East losing streak?
The Hoyas popped the Blue Demons on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to finally get Patrick Ewing & Co. off the schneid. Of course, DePaul is also the answer to a lesser trivia question of which it can take pride: Who handed Xavier its first Big East loss this season?
Yup, that was the Blue Demons, as well, knocking off then-No. 8 Xavier at Wintrust Arena on Jan. 18, the Musketeers’ first loss in their first eight conference games (they have since lost at Creighton, as well).
So, which DePaul team does the UConn men’s basketball team get when it visits Wintrust on Tuesdsay night? Hard to know. DePaul has dropped three straight since that win over Xavier, including the Georgetown loss and a 20-point loss to Marquette on Saturday before DePaul’s first sellout at Winstrust — ever.
No doubt, the Blue Demons have some talent. Umoja Gibson is one of the Big East’s top scorers, Yor Anei is a towering, rim-protecting presence, and the return of former USF guard Caleb Murphy helps, as well.
PUtting best foot forward: Tuesday night is more about which UConn team shows up. The Huskies have dropped six of their last eight, most recently an 82-79 heartbreaking loss at Gampel Pavilion to Xavier. UConn battled back from a 17-point first-half deficit in that one and got within a single point four different times, keyed by full-court pressure, an effective zone defense and 26 second-half points from Jordan Hawkins.
Did a spark go off in that second half for the Huskies that can get them back to the 14-0 powerhouse that trucked every opponent by double-digits? Will Hurley press more, use more zone? And what’s up with Samson Johnson, the 6-10 sophomore who returned to play in a Jan. 22 win over Butler but didn’t play at all against Xavier?
Was a five-day respite from game action exactly what UConn needed following the Xavier loss, and will the Huskies be rejuvenated over the second half of their league slate? They get the league’s two perennial bottom-feeders on the road this week (at Georgetown on Saturday). Now would be a perfect time for UConn to get that swagger back.