Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Green's five things to watch for in Wednesday's Butler/DePaul matchup

Photo Credit: Justin Casterline- Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

The DePaul Blue Demons (10-5, 2-2 Big East) have entered unchartered territory as they have won back-to-back conference games for the fourth time since reconfiguration in the 2013-14 season and look to make three wins in a row as the Butler Bulldogs (10-7, 1-3 Big East) visit Wintrust Arena on Wednesday night. Here are my five things to watch for in the Butler/DePaul matchup.

1) The rise of Olujobi:

With Marin Maric graduating in the off-season, the Blue Demons needed a replacement in the frontcourt and have gotten it with Femi Olujobi.

Olujobi put together his most complete performance of the season with a 27-point, eight-rebound outing in a 79-71 win at then-No. 24 St. John’s on Jan. 12. Another similar outing on Wednesday could propel DePaul to its tenth home win of the season— the most since 2006-07.

2) Strus keeps evolving:

Max Strus’ game continues to excel in his second season for the Blue Demons with team-highs in points per game (18.4) and rebounds per game (7.6). The senior will be motivated to put together another a strong showing similar after being held to seven points on 1-of-5 shooting in the last meeting at Butler on Feb. 3, 2018.

In the win over St. John’s, Strus showcased more of a physical presence with 12 rebounds, to go along with 14 points.

3) Butler’s dominance against DePaul:

Since joining the Big East in the 2013-14 season, the Butler Bulldogs have had a stranglehold in the series with the Blue Demons winning nine of the ten meetings.

In the last meeting at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler demolished DePaul, 80-57 as Kelan Martin highlighted four Bulldog players in double figures with 26 points.

4) Reed clicking on all cylinders:

DePaul forward Paul Reed continues to excel in his sophomore campaign with 9.5 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Reed produced his first-ever double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds at St. John’s and will be one of the keys to slowing down Butler center Joey Brunk.

5) A force of Brunk:

In a season of transition for Butler basketball, Joey Brunk has provided some much-needed stability in the frontcourt for the Bulldogs in league play.

Despite a 1-3 mark in the Big East, Brunk produced his first career double-double against Seton Hall on Jan. 9 with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Brunk’s play combined with Kamar Baldwin’s team-high 17.0 PPG could pose as a credible inside-outside threat to snap a rare two-game losing streak in Big East play.