Through all the uncertainty with the DePaul basketball program over the past few seasons, there’s been one constant since 2014: The Blue Demons defeating the Drake Bulldogs. That continued to be the case on Wednesday night, as DePaul toppled Drake by a 77-75 margin at McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Blue Demons dug themselves in a mighty big hole early on, trailing by nine at the half. The deficit climbed to as many as 15 points with 10:45 to play. Per DePaul’s SID, Greg Greenwell, it was the biggest deficit overcome by the program in a victory since 2008.
DePaul battled until the final minute, when an Eli Cain layup tied the game. Cain got fouled on the layup and hit the free throw, giving the Blue Demons at 76-75 lead, their first lead since late in the first half. Cain led the Blue Demons with 19 points, so his streak of four games scoring 20+ points has been snapped, but the final result supersedes that.
Here are three things we learned from this game.
DePaul has nice young pieces
Aside from Cain, a sophomore, freshman Brandon Cyrus had a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds. Tre’Darius McCallum, who isn’t necessarily young in terms of age or class (the junior spent his two previous seasons in community college), is young in terms of NCAA experience. He had 10 points and six boards for the Blue Demons.
It’s nice for the Blue Demons to have younger guys to be able to step up when some of the elder statesmen like Billy Garrett (four points) struggle.
Drake isn’t very good
The Bulldogs led by 15 with 10:40 to play. They lost by two. That’s not something that should happen. Of course, we knew Drake wasn’t very good. They lost to Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout. Drake’s Billy Wampler had an impressive 17 points in the first half. He finished the game with 17 points. Reed Timmer finished with 18 points. 14 of them were in the second half. The Bulldogs probably would have won this game if their players could play a complete game.
It’s okay to have fun
I enjoy watching DePaul. They have flaws, but there are a lot of nice pieces (Cain, Garrett, Cyrus, to name a few) on their roster to keep my attention. They also just won their second straight nailbiter. It’s easy to discount them because of history or because they don’t play the best opponents, but at the end of the day, DePaul’s team is full of players who seem to have fun playing a game. That’s what it’s all about.