If DePaul desired, it could hop on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line and take a six-mile train ride north to get to Loyola Chicago for Saturday’s non-conference clash.
After a 10-year break, the Blue Demons and Ramblers renewed their North Side rivalry last season with Loyola claiming a 68-64 win on DePaul’s home court. Now it’s DePaul’s turn to try to do the same at Loyola in what has been dubbed the “Red Line Rivalry.”
Considering both teams lost to Texas A&M by 16 points late last month – Loyola on a neutral court on Nov. 20 and DePaul on its home court last Friday – something of an even matchup awaits.
Both teams are feeling better about themselves after snapping losing streaks with a win on Wednesday. DePaul (4-3) ended a three-game slide with a 103-98 overtime home victory over Samford while Loyola (3-4) quelled a four-game skid with an 85-70 win over Central Arkansas, in their first home game since Nov. 7.
The Blue Demons made 18 of 34 3-pointers against Samford (52.9 percent) – tying their highest 3-point total in 27 years. Iowa State transfer Javan Johnson poured in a career-high 28 points while shooting 6 of 8 from 3.
Head coach Tony Stubblefield was most impressed by the fact the Demons earned 24 assists – nine better than their previous season-high — on 32 baskets.
“You move the ball like that, you’re going to have a good chance to win,” Stubblefield said. “The biggest thing I can take away from (the Samford win) is the ball movement and sharing the ball.”
On the flip side, Stubblefield wasn’t giddy about allowing Samford 98 points as the Bulldogs’ guards were able to take the ball wherever they wanted most of the night. Loyola has a set of guards that can do the same.
“We’ve got to do a better job fighting the dribble and keeping the ball out of the paint,” Stubblefield said. “We’ve got to do a better job of post defense. These guys are more than capable of doing that – and I’ve got to get it out of them.”
DePaul will have to continue to try to do it without big men Nick Ongenda and Yor Anei. Ongenda, who injured his left wrist in practice the day before the season opener, underwent surgery Thursday that will delay his season debut another 8-10 weeks.
Loyola coach Drew Valentine has been trying to sort out lineups after losing four senior starters from last year’s 25-win squad. Div. II transfer Philip Alston paces the Ramblers with 13.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while redshirt freshman wing Ben Schwieger (10.8 points) delivered a career-high 26 points on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range against Central Arkansas.
“We’ve just been focusing on playing hard and winning the (next) four minutes,” Valentine said.
–Field Level Media