It was a historic afternoon for the DePaul Blue Demons as they knocked off the number five team in the country in the Butler Bulldogs. At home in Wintrust Arena, the Blue Demons got hot from deep and relied on a monster performance from their star Paul Reed and Jalen Coleman-Lands. Reed scored 23 points and had 9 rebounds while Coleman-Lands pitched in with 20. Both were instrumental in DePaul’s win and were their go-to players whenever the Blue Demons needed a bucket. DePaul raced out to a double digit lead in the first half and didn’t look back. Butler were careless with the ball all game and struggled to catch up. The Bulldogs didn’t lead the entire game and had 17 turnovers. In the second half the Blue Demons did just enough to keep Butler at bay. A quick run with seven minutes left in the game sealed the victory. The crowd roared when the buzzer sounded as DePaul upset Butler 79-66.
The Bulldogs started the game playing sloppy. They turned the ball over three times in the early parts and shot a woeful 21 percent in the first ten minutes of the game. Reed, who showed in the game that he can be an NBA draft pick come June, was on fire to begin the first half. He scored 13 of DePaul’s first 19 points and had Wintrust Arena rocking. The offensive lull by the Bulldogs along with the spark from Reed helped DePaul race out to a 20-6 lead. Even after going to the bench for a couple of minutes Reed picked up right where he left off. He splashed a three from the top of the arc and then drew two foul shots on the very next possessions. The mini-run expanded DePaul’s lead to 31-16 with less than eight minutes to go in the half.
However the Blue Demons offense began to sputter for a while after that. They went scoreless for a couple of minutes but were still able to keep their distance from Butler. But the Bulldogs were able to make a dent in the lead and cut it down to a five-point game with 2:51 left in half. With Reed on the bench due to picking up two fouls, DePaul struggled to generate good looks during this scoring drought. There were a lot of forced jumpers and possessions where nobody could generate any separation from a Bulldogs defender. Butler headed into this game with one of the top defenses in the league and clamped down to prevent the lead from getting out of hand.
DePaul entered the locker room with the momentum, ending a chaotic final minute of the first half with a 44-34 lead. Devin Gage and Romeo Weems hit three-pointers on back to back possessions, putting the crowd on their feet as the buzzer sounded. DePaul had a good first half offensively. They shot 50.1 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from downtown, going five of eight from there. Reed led the way with 18 points and displayed his offensive versatility. He was scoring on all three levels of the court in the first twenty minutes and added two rebounds to go along with it. Weems was second in scoring with eight while Jaylen Butz had six.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs recovered from their slow start. Things began to pick up for them as the half went along and the offense ran more smoothly. They were led by the 10 points of their best player Kemar Baldwin and got nine from Jordan Tucker. Overall the Bulldogs shot 41.4 percent from the field and were on top in the rebounding category, 18-13.
The second half began slow with both teams struggling to score points. Butler and DePaul scored quickly into the final twenty minutes but then simultaneously went into an offensive lull. Like the first half, Butler struggled with turnovers but the Blue Demons couldn’t turn those mistakes into points on the other end. DePaul went on another scoring drought as the clocked ticked to under 13 minutes left to go. Butler finally snapped a stretch of five minutes without a point as Aaron Thompson knocked down some free throws. The majority of the points generated for the first ten minutes of the second half were from the charity stripe. Field goals were hard to come by and quality looks weren’t being generated. DePaul struggled to generate any good shots without Reed being involved offensively and Butler kept giving the ball away. Rinse and repeat.
But the Blue Demons began to knock down shots. Jaylen Butz got a pass off of a short roll and went up to slam the ball home. Sean McDermott went to contest but it didn’t matter as Butz slammed it home plus the foul. Charlie Moore and Coleman-Lands started splashing three-pointers and the lead ballooned. Suddenly with less than nine minutes to play the Blue Demons were up 19 on a top five opponent. With 7:04 on the clock, Coleman-Lands hit his third three of the afternoon and the lead expanded to 21. From there the Blue Demons had a solid grasp on the game and were determined not to let Butler back into the game. Things got a little testy with 52.6 seconds left as Moore and Thompson got tangled up then exchanged words. Both players were handed technicals.