Men's BasketballSports

Pk80 Preview: Oregon faces DePaul in consolation bracket of PK80

PORTLAND, Ore. — Ahead of PK80, Oregon head coach Dana Altman looked at the tournament as a chance to boost his team’s strength of schedule. If Oregon won its first-round game, it probably would’ve faced No. 4 Michigan State with the possibility of a rematch with No. 9 North Carolina if it defeated the Spartans.

Instead, Oregon lost its first-round matchup with UConn and heads into the consolation bracket for a Friday matchup with DePaul (1-3).

The Blue Demons lost their first-round matchup to Michigan State. Although tied at 31-31 at halftime, the Spartan went on to outscore DePaul 42-20 in the second half for the win. Max Strus and Eli Cain, DePaul’s leading scorers, each had a team-high 12 points in the loss.

Minus the promising first half against Michigan State, DePaul is struggling this season. It opened its season with a 72-58 loss to No. 13 Notre Dame and lost two weeks later to Illinois, 82-73. It beat Delaware State 81-57 on Nov. 13 in what’s been DePaul’s lone win this season.

DePaul is a terrible offensive team. Its scoring average dropped to 65.8 points per game, ranked 310th in the country, after its loss to Michigan State on Friday. The Blue Demons also shoot only 35 percent from the field, the fourth-worst mark in the country, and have shot above 40 percent from the field only once this season (42 percent in their win over Delaware State). They’re not much better from three, as they shoot a mere 26 percent from deep, ranked 330th in the country.

DePaul doesn’t pass the ball well, either. It’s only recorded 40 assists this season (10 per game) to 43 turnovers (10.75 per game), a 0.93 assist-to-turnover ratio, ranked 229th in the country. Only two player average more than two assists per game.

Strus and Cain are the offensive standouts for the Blue Demons. Strus, a 6-foot-6 senior, averages a team-high 13.3 points per game, along with 4.5 rebounds, but shoots only 32.5 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from three. Cain, a 6-foot-6 junior, averages 11.3 points per game on 36.2 percent shooting (20 percent from three) and grabs 5 rebounds a game.

Defensively, the Blue Demons fare somewhat better. They’ve held two ranked teams in Notre Dame and Michigan State well below their scoring averages. They also average about seven steals per game, with guard Devin Gage leading the way with two a game.

Oregon was left licking its wounds after UConn on Thursday, but should have a good opportunity to bounce back against DePaul on Friday. It’ll also be a chance for Oregon to salvage what’s left of this tournament after a disappointing start.

Oregon and DePaul tip-off at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

If Oregon wins, it will face the winner of Portland/Oklahoma on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

If Oregon loses, it will face the loser of Portland/Oklahoma on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris


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Gus Morris

Gus Morris

Gus Morris covers Oregon football, basketball and women's golf for the Emerald. Caffeine addict. Bay Area sports. I know words, I have the best words.