DePaul heads into Evanston, IL on Friday with a 7-5 record, looking to get one more non-conference victory against Northwestern before Big East Play begins a week from today. If the Blue Demons were determined to avoid a sixth consecutive last place Big East finish, they failed to generate any momentum with their play at Illinois State.
In a week of up's and downs, DePaul dispatched of Houston Baptist, 78-58. It was a win the Blue Demons should have expected. Cleveland Melvin continued to shine with a season-high 28 points, while the bigs down low dominated the boards. Despite the 20-point win, DePaul continued its streak of getting off to slow starts, trailing midway through the first half, while freshman Billy Garrett is still trying to find a consistent shot.
With a victory over Illinois State, the Demons would be riding a 4-game win streak into Welsh-Ryan Arena, possible favorites against a Northwestern squad under new management with Chris Collins. Sloppy play, however, shot down any chance of that in their loss to the Redbirds.
Melvin just could not contribute, fouling out with 4 points in his worst performance of the season. DePaul failed to control the ball as they committed 16 turnovers, leading to 17 ISU points. They also sent the Redbirds to the line 30 times; ISU converted 24 free throws. DePaul just could not play disciplined, and it overshadows the performance of their defense, which held Illinois State to 31.3 percent shooting. They held the Redbirds without a field goal for nearly the final seven minutes of the game, while Billy Garrett (game-high 18 pts) and Brandon Young (17 pts 7 rebs) led them back within two before a jump ball sealed the victory for Illinois State.
The bench is continuing to gel as the playing time increases, and Cleveland Melvin should shrug off that bad game no problem against Northwestern's defense. However, they need to not take the Wildcats lightly. Drew Crawford is back for one more year, and he can be dangerous if you aren't able to contain him (16.5 PPG, .422 3pt pct). DePaul gave up 16 points to ISU's Daishon Knight, and struggled against guards driving the lane on occasion. Northwestern also won't hesitate to pick your pocket, and if Coach Purnell's boys can't protect the rock, they're in for a long trip back home on the Purple Line.
- DePaul's six-game road win streak against non-conference opponents was the 4th longest streak in the nation in that category before Sunday's loss at Illinois State.
- Freshman DeJuan Marrero made the most of increased minutes against ISU, scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds in 14 minutes of playing time. Marrero drove the baseline en route to a pretty under-the-basket lay-up late in the first half, flashing some athleticism that can grow the more minutes he plays.
- With 28 points in two games last week, Senior Brandon Young moved into ninth place on the DePaul all-time scoring list, and his two 3-pointers against Illinois State pushed him into a tie for 13th place on the all-time 3-point field goal list. Young has arguably been DePaul's best scorer despite
- Friday's DePaul/Northwestern game will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network at 8 P.M CST. For radio listeners in the Chicagoland area, the game will be aired locally on WSCR 670 AM.