For DePaul Coach Joey Meyer, there was one small consolation to spending most of the month of December on the road: He didn't have to take his once-a-week promotional rides on the Chicago public transportation system, where a large portion of the passengers almost certainly would have had opinions to voice on the Blue Demons' losing ways.

"When you're going bad, it seems like everyone has the answer but you," Meyer said recently, reflecting on a trying, five-losses-in-eight-games December that gave way to a 6-2 January and a reinvigorated DePaul team. The Blue Demons (11-7), winners of three straight and seven of their last nine, will face 18th-ranked Georgetown (13-5) today at 12:15 p.m. in a nationally televised matchup at Capital Centre (WUSA-TV-9).

And win or lose, when Meyer returns home and resumes riding the trains -- where spotting him and getting an autograph means free tickets to a DePaul game, courtesy of the Chicago Transit Authority -- his reception is certain to be improved from a month ago. "We've made a real turnaround," he said.

It's a familiar refrain for the Blue Demons. Last season, they went 2-5 in December and regrouped a bit late, settling for an NIT bid after being among the final cuts from the 64-team NCAA tournament (the first time in seven years DePaul hadn't been invited to the NCAAs). The Blue Demons finished the season 20-15, falling to St. Louis in the NIT quarterfinals.

This time around, Meyer was somewhat less patient when DePaul hit its early-season rut, which included defeats to Louisville, UCLA and North Carolina during a five-game losing streak. He tinkered with his lineup, finally settling three games ago upon a three-guard set that has his second-leading scorer, junior center Stephen Howard, coming off the bench.

The major plus of the new approach, Meyer contends, has been the added speed and spunk provided by spark-plug point guard Joe Daughrity. The Blue Demons now have a shot-blocker in the pivot in junior center Jeff Stern, and their top scorer, David Booth, has had a distinct quickness advantage against defenders since being moved to the power forward slot.

"Daughrity has helped a lot," Meyer said. "He's added some scrap, the kind of fight we didn't have in us early on. For a while there, we were a little too much performers, not enough players. . . . I like the new lineup. I like our quickness, and I like our aggressiveness."

He's not certain how the deployment will fare against the Hoyas. The 6-foot-10 Stern, 6-7 Booth and 6-4 Terry Davis will be matched along the front line against Georgetown's 7-2 Dikembe Mutombo, 6-10 Alonzo Mourning and 6-6 Robert Churchwell. "It sure doesn't look good on paper," Meyer said. "Of course, I don't know if we have any lineup we can play against them.

"Mourning's starting to get back from his injury, and Mutombo's just gotten so much better. You hear about him being a lottery pick {in the NBA draft}. How about the number one pick?. . . . They're one of the top five teams in the nation with those two together, no doubt."

Indeed, the Hoyas have begun to come around of late, entering today off victories over 17th-ranked Pittsburgh and No. 5 St. John's.

Freshman guard Charles Harrison has made 13 of 28 field goal attempts over the past two games (including five of seven three-point tries) after hovering around 37 percent accuracy most of the season, and the Hoyas have shot 80 percent from the free throw line over their past 11 games.

"We're starting to come together," said Coach John Thompson, whose teams have beaten DePaul six straight, the past three times by identical 74-64 scores. "But there are still a lot of things we have to improve upon.

"We did a good job of trying to include the bigger people in the game against St. John's. . . . We have to maintain a certain amount of consistency {today}."