DePaul Rally Falls Short

DePaul's second half rally fell short after digging too deep of a hole in the first half as they fell 84-74 to Xavier in a Martin Luther King Day matinee at Allstate Arena.

DePaul (10-10, 2-5) trailed 50-32 at intermission which made head coach Oliver Purnell none too pleased during the break. Purnell's response to the lackluster play was to bench senior guard Brandon Young for the entire second half.

"I just made the decision at halftime we weren't getting the attitude and leadership that we needed out there, so we needed to make a change," said Purnell.

After trailing by as many as 19 points, DePaul rallied in the second half, but could pull no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

"I told the guys after the game I was pleased with their effort, approach, and energy in the second half and gave us a chance to get back in the game with just hard-nosed play and hustle," said Purnell. "We just didn't make some free throws and some shots that we needed to make to really put the pressure on them."

It was a tail of two halves for the Blue Demons.

"To tell the truth, it really comes down to leadership," said freshman guard Billy Garrett. "The first half we didn't have any leadership out there. We were all over the place. We really didn't come together until the second half."

Xavier (15-4, 5-1) shot 67.9% from the floor in the first half and 45% in the second stanza.

"It didn't feel like we came out in the first half with that kind of energy, effort, and sticktoitiveness to our game plan, which was to keep them out of transition," said Purnell.

Xavier guard Semaj Christian led all scorers with 27 points on nine of 12 from the floor. Justin Martin scored 18 and Isiah Philmore added 13 in the winning effort for the Musketeers.

The Blue Demons did manage to keep Xavier center Matt Stainbrook below his average. Stainbrook ended the afternoon with six points and eight rebounds.

Senior forward Cleveland Melvin led the way for DePaul with 25 points. Garrett added 18 points.

DePaul freshmen center Tommy Hamilton IV played only six minutes after getting elbowed in the chest by Stainbrook. Hamilton is day-to-day with a bruised sternum.

Charles McKinney also left the game in the second half after rolling his ankle and did not return to the game.

The Blue Demons next travel to New Jersey where they will face Seton Hall on Saturday night.

Notes:

Gar Forman (Bulls), former DePaul coach Joey Meyer (Clippers), and a number of other NBA Scouts were at today's game.

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