DePaul (7-7, 0-1) proved up to that challenge as No. 1 Villanova (13-0, 1-0) escaped the Pavilion with a 68-65 win over the Blue Demons on Wednesday night.
The Blue Demons had an opportunity to tie the game when Billy Garrett, Jr.’s three point attempt bounced off the back of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
It was a gutty effort by the Blue Demons. DePaul had trailed by as many as twelve points in the second half with 11:08 to go. They then went on a 14-0 run to get back into the contest.
“We put some three-quarter court pressure on them,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao told WSCR radio of the run. “But it’s a combination of things. One is we put them back on their heels a bit, then we started making stops, now we can do some things offensively. We explored the paint in the second half a whole lot more. When you make high percentage shots in there, you give yourselves a chance.”
DePaul was led by junior college transfer Tre’Darius McCallum who racked up 19 points and seven rebounds.
Garrett contributed with 17 points and four rebounds. Eli Cain chipped in with 14 points.
Villanova’s Josh Hart led all scorers with 25 points. Jalen Brunson had 13 points and six assists and Kris Jenkins added 12 points for the Wildcats.
The only negative for DePaul was their three point shooting. The Demons shot three for 17 from beyond the arc. Cain, who has been in a shooting slump in the last three games, was two of eight on trifectas.
The Blue Demons return home to Allstate Arena on New Year’s Day to face the St. John’s Red Storm.
Postgame Notes from DePaul Sports Information
- DePaul is 2-10 all-time in Big East openers.
- The Blue Demons faced the No. 1-ranked team for the 23rd time in program history... DePaul is 3-20 all-time against the top-ranked team... the last win over a No. 1-ranked team was a 63-61 victory against La Salle on Dec. 27, 1952 at the MSG Holiday Festival.
- DePaul has overcome a second-half double-digit deficit four times this season... previously the Blue Demons erased a 10-point lead in the second half by Missouri State, Drake and Southeast Missouri State.
- Billy Garrett Jr. recorded his 75th career game in double-figures... Garrett (1,361 points) finished the game tied with Will Walker (1,361 points, 2006-10) for 19th on DePaul’s all-time scoring list.
- Villanova leads the series, 23-8.