Déjà vu all over again for DePaul

In almost the same exact manner, DePaul (12-19) once again was outlasted by the Connecticut Huskies (19-12) in losing 81-67 in the first round of the Big East Tournament, just as they did last season in a rematch of the 9-16 seed matchup.

Buoyed by sizzling shooting from the three-point land in the first half (7-11 for 77.8 percent) and aggressive post play in the second half, Connecticut was simply too much for the undermanned Blue Demons on the day.

To DePaul's credit, they did make a valiant run in the second half cutting the Huskies 61-37 lead down to nine (70-61) with 7:19 to go after a Moses Morgan three pointer. Connecticut answered with a 6-0 run, punctuated by a Jeremy Lamb breakaway layup, which effectively put the game away.

Connecticut shot a healthy 53.4 percent from the floor and a scorching 61.5 percent from three-point territory on the afternoon. Conversely, the Demons were cold from the floor connecting on only 32.4 percent of their shots, although they were respectable from three-point land shooting 36.4 percent.

Lamb played more the part of a lion today, as he scored a game-high 25 points on 10-18 shooting. Lamb and the Huskies' big bodies underneath were simply too much for the Blue Demons on the day.

"Lamb was awfully good in the game from start to finish," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "They got enough balance with some of their inside guys scoring, but it was really too much Lamb."

It was nip and tuck in the beginning of the first half with neither team building a lead of more than five points until the Huskies took command in the final stages of the first half. The Huskies finished the half on a 27-18 run and led 46-33 at the break.

From the onset of the second half, Connecticut took it to the Blue Demons, extending their halftime lead to 24 points when Roscoe Smith drilled a three pointer with 14:58 to go. It was then that the Demons started whittling the lead with their full court pressure and timely three-point shooting.

"I really admired our guys' fighting spirit to get back into the game in the second half," Purnell said. "You have to give Connecticut credit and particularly Lamb. I'm really disappointed it's over, but we lost to a better team today."

DePaul was led by Moses Morgan and Cleveland Melvin, who both scored 19 points and keyed the second half run. Chicago area native Ryan Boatright chipped in 19 points for the Huskies.

The focus now for the Demons is to learn from this season and take the next step next year.

"These guys continued to come back and work and play hard," Purnell said. "Obviously our closing game of the regular season (an 86-58 win over Seton Hall) was our best, which was nice to see. We can build on that."

Even opposing Coach Jim Calhoun was very complimentary of the Demons.

"DePaul is going to be a tough place to stop," said Calhoun. "They're going to be good in the way they play, and they're different than most of our Big East teams, and as they get other kids and more experience, they're going to be good."

For Melvin and Morgan, they are prepared to keep working hard to turn around the program and both expect bigger things next year.

"(We) just got to work on maintaining our focus and just keep grinding, working hard on the court (and) staying positive," Melvin said.

"I feel we're close," Morgan said. "We work hard every day and even though we lose, we don't hang our heads."

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