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DePaul vs. Xavier: The Blue Demons' Crossover Examination

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The Blue Demons took a loss at the Cintas Center last Saturday. Robert O'Neill and Tyler Freeland break down exactly what went right, and also what went wrong.

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After a strong first half, the Blue Demons ultimately let the game get away from them Saturday in Cincinnati, losing to the Xavier Musketeers by a score of  89-76.

The Blue Demons had a nice mix of strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball in this game, and that's what we're going to take a look at right now.

Offense

What Went Well

The entire first half: That seems like a cop-out, but it's true. The Blue Demons set a season high in points scored in a half when they scored 50 in the first 20 minutes of Saturday's contest. A ridiculous barrage of three pointers, 10-20 in the first half aided them in building a 50-42 lead at the half. It wasn't a sustainable pace, but it was sure fun to watch while it lasted.

Assisting: To DePaul's credit, they did a great job sharing the ball. They had 20 assists in the game, as a team, which shows that their first half threes weren't just the result of throwing up lucky shots. They were very good at making the extra pass to an open man.  It was also a very welcome sight for DePaul to get 20 assists, given that they average 12.3 a game. That's 196th in the nation.

What Went Poorly

The entire second half: Another cop-out, I'm sorry. But, it's true. It was the tale of two halves for the Blue Demons on both sides of the ball. They scored 50 in the first half and 26 in the second half. Even with their unsustainable pace from beyond the arc, 26 points in a half is still bad. Xavier is the type of team who doesn't usually make defensive adjustments at the half, but whatever Chris Mack did on Saturday worked like a charm.

Turnovers: The Blue Demons, even in their successful first half, turned the ball over like crazy. Overall, they lost the turnover battle 14-5. Seven of those 14 came from Billy Garrett and Tommy Hamilton, the two stars on this team. For DePaul to have sustained success, their stars are going to need to take better care of the ball

Defense

What Went Well

DePaul didn't allow Xavier much from outside, allowing only three 3 pointers throughout the contest. The defense in the first half contained the pace of play by Xavier, holding a 8 point lead at halftime.

What Went Poorly

As the second half progressed, all the wheels fell off for DePaul defensively. DePaul was dominated inside the paint getting outscored 52-24. The Blue Demons only forced 5 turnovers from Xavier all game, which is simply not going to get it done. Not one of the starting 5 registered a steal or a blocked shot all game long. DePaul is not skilled enough to only produce on one side of the court or only show up for one half. DePaul has learned if they play tight defense, they will conquer ranked opponents such as Seton Hall.

A key to their success is keeping scoring low as well, as DePaul hasn't scored more than 76 points against any Big East team so far. Xavier proved that they wanted it more in the second half as the two teams split their regular season games.