Two programs struggling for different reasons will try to correct course when Texas A&M and host DePaul meet Friday in Chicago.
Both the Aggies (3-2) and the Blue Demons (3-2) are coming off tough showings at in-season tournaments last weekend.
Texas A&M, which was ranked No. 24 in last week’s Associated Press poll, lost its first two games at the Myrtle Beach Invitational before salvaging a 67-51 win over Loyola Chicago on Sunday.
Texas A&M gave up 50.0 percent shooting from the floor (25 of 50) and 45.5 percent from 3-point range (10 of 22) in an 88-79 loss to Murray State. Colorado shot even better against the Aggies in the next round — 57.6 percent overall (34 of 59) and 50.0 percent from beyond the arc (16 of 32) in a 103-75 rout.
The Aggies are tied for 320th in Division I in allowing 38.9 percent 3-point shooting to opponents. Coach Buzz Williams said defenders are late to rotate over and contest opponents’ shots at the arc.
“That would be specifically what hurt us the most against Murray State and Colorado,” Williams told reporters. “We practiced on Saturday. That was a portion of our priority, was the rotation on the back side.”
DePaul’s problems, on the other hand, are primarily on offense. The Blue Demons have shot just 43.6 percent from the field (212th in Division I) and 31.1 percent from long range (249th).
Things were looking up for Tony Stubblefield’s program when the Blue Demons posted a 69-53 win over Minnesota on Nov. 14. But at the Bahamas Championship, Santa Clara of the West Coast Conference won 69-61 in the first round and Oklahoma State held off DePaul’s late comeback in the consolation game, winning 82-78.
Eral Penn is DePaul’s leading rebounder (8.8 per game) and third-leading scorer (12.2) after going for double-doubles against Minnesota and Oklahoma State. He had 25 points and 11 boards against the Cowboys.
“(Eral) is a high-energy guy,” Stubblefield said earlier this month. “He’s going to play hard every time he steps out there on the floor. He does a great job rebounding the basketball. He’s a great leader for us.”
Umoja Gibson leads DePaul in scoring with 17.0 points per game.
For Texas A&M, Wade Taylor IV is the only double-figure scorer at 14.2 points per game, but five other players average at least 8.0 to comprise a balanced offense.
–Field Level Media