GAME NOTES: The Milwaukee Panthers finally get to play in front of the hometown crowd tonight, as they take on the DePaul Blue Demons in non- conference action at U.S. Cellular Arena.
The Panthers opened the 2013-14 campaign with a pair of true road games against Loyola and Davidson, falling to the former before kicking off a four- game win streak versus the Wildcats. Over the weekend, the team took part in the NIU Invitational and used the opportunity to take down San Jose State, James Madison and host Northern Illinois.
As for the Blue Demons, they've won two of their first three games of the new season, the lone setback coming against Southern Miss (75-68) during the CBE Hall of Fame Classic six days ago. On Saturday, DePaul played the second game of that event and came up with an 81-72 win versus Wright State.
The Blue Demons lead the all-time series by a commanding 11-1 margin, with all 12 previous encounters being played on the home floor of DePaul. Last season, the Panthers shot a woeful 25.8 percent from the field in an 84-50 setback to the Blue Demons.
Cleveland Melvin scored a team-high 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Blue Demons during their win over Wright State a few days back. With his scoring output Melvin moved into ninth place on the school's all-time scoring list, now with 1,513 points. It was also his 15th career double-double and the 26th time he has tallied at least 20 points in an outing. Also providing some offensive punch were Brandon Young with 14 points, Tommy Hamilton 13 and backup Billy Garrett 12 points as the team overcame 19 turnovers by shooting 54.5 percent from the floor.
After three games it is Melvin who heads the scoring list for DePaul with his 18.7 ppg, as he not only shoots 66.7 percent from the field overall but has the same level of accuracy (8-of-12) behind the 3-point line as well. Young (14.7 ppg) and Hamilton (12.3 ppg) don't have the same touch from the perimeter, but the former is tied for the team high with 13 assists and the latter is tops with 6.7 rpg.
Malcolm Moore scored 15 points, leading five players in double figures, as the Panthers overcame an early 14-point deficit to take down NIU on the road just two days ago. Steve McWhorter had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, Austin Arians and Jordan Aaron added 13 points apiece, while Kyle Kelm checked in with 12 points and six rebounds in the comeback victory. If nothing else, Milwaukee took great care of the ball, suffering just eight turnovers, compared to 17 for the hosts.
The Panthers have a pack of five players scoring in double figures after five games, led by Matt Tiby with his 14.6 ppg. Not only is he the leading scorer and top rebounder (8.8 rpg) for Milwaukee, he is also second on the team in assists with 15, trailing only McWhorter (10.4 ppg) who has handed out 21. Defensively, the Panthers are allowing less than 10 assists per contest and forcing slightly more than 14 turnovers, keeping opponents on their toes.
Milwaukee has done well in the early going, but the team hasn't face very strong competition, which is enough of a reason to think the Blue Demons can come up with a win on the road tonight.
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