The DePaul Blue Demons have done the unthinkable. After Saturday's 71-68 win over the Xavier Musketeers, Oliver Purnell's club is 2-0 and shares first place in the conference with the Seton Hall Pirates.
The game was won mostly due to the play of Billy Garrett Jr. and Forrest Robinson. The combo of guard and forward scored 32 points collectively, and Garrett Jr. showed tremendous efficiency by only missing on two of his seven field goal attempts. The Chicago native was crucial down the stretch, hitting a 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining in the game, and hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining to put the Blue Demons up three.
One Dee Davis 3-point miss later, and the arena formerly known as the Rosemont Horizon sprung into euphoria.
Here are three things we learned from this contest:
1. Trevon Bluiett will likely be a strong contender for Big East Rookie of the Year
With Isaiah Whitehead on the sidelines, Trevon Bluiett of Xavier will likely be bashing heads with Marquette's Duane Wilson for the award. Bluiett showed off his skills yet again on Saturday afternoon in Rosemont, as he produced a 19-point, 12-rebound performance with an assist and a steal. The four turnovers are an eyesore, but you certainly cannot expect a freshman to play completely mistake-free. If Bluiett's offensive production stays at this pace, it will be hard to argue his case to take home the award at the end of the season.
2. DePaul is out in front for the first time in many years
For the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Blue Demons are 2-0 to start Big East play. In that year, DePaul started things off by taking out Villanova and Providence in back-to-back home games. Similarly, this time around they have kicked league play off with consecutive wins at the Allstate Arena. That year, they would go on to start 4-2 before pitfalling to a 6-12 record. We'll see how long things last, but for now, we welcome our new DePaul overlords.
3. Any additional success DePaul has could be program-changing
So, maybe this is a touch hyperbolic. But with DePaul netting wins over Marquette and Xavier, the latter whom was thought to be and still might wind up as a contender in the Big East Conference, the fact that they are heavily competing with some of the best that the current Big East has to offer could wind up being a game changer for future recruits. Also, the success of Billy Garrett Jr. -- a Chicago native -- could eventually help swing Chicago area recruits towards the program. Garrett Jr. has been superb this year and to echo thoughts from this very website, could be a Big East Player of the Year before he makes his eventual exit. We may look back and laugh at this later on, but for now, we will let DePaul and Chicago prosper.