DePaul went on 12-2 run in the closing minutes of the first half to pull out to a 27-21 lead over Connecticut at intermission. In the second half, the Blue Demons picked up where they left off and quickly jumped ahead to lead by a twenty point margin.
Trailing by 20 with 11:16 to go in the game, UConn fought back and managed to pull to within three with 1:27 left in the game. At that point, DePaul managed to pull off the play of the game. With the shot clock winding down, Blue Demon senior Sammy Mejia threw up an alley-oop pass to sophomore forward Wilson Chandler for a rim-rattling dunk with 51 seconds to go.
"That was probably the biggest possession of the game," said Burns. "They were making a run, they stopped us on a couple plays. For Sammy to make that awesome play to Wilson, it kind of broke their confidence. We took away the game from there."
It was Burns that sparked the Demons with his scoring as a starter. Of late opponents have been focusing on Mejia which has created opportunites for Burns. "When you take something away, something else presents itself,"said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright. "That's why we've started Draelon, it takes the pressure off Sam."
Three players finished in double figures for DePaul, Chandler contributed with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Mejia scored 10 points.
The Blue Demons, who have struggled from the charity stripe in games, shot an uncharacteristic 77.8% from the line including Burns going five for five down the stretch.
Jerome Dyson led the way for the Huskies with 16 points despite leaving the game in the first half after having two front teeth knocked out. A sore Dyson returned to score nine more in the second half. Sophomore Jeff Adrien also contributed with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Blue Demons limited 7-3 pivot Hasheem Thabeet to four points. "We never played anybody whose 7-3 yet, we played seven footers, but that was the tallest tree," said DePaul big man Lorenzo Thompson. "All week Coach told us to be prepared that the guy blocked shots, he averaged like four a game."
"They beat us," said UConn coach Jim Calhoun. "They did a nice job of controlling the game which they did by isolating us. They did a nice job of doing that and getting down the lane."
DePaul now stands at 13-10 and 4-5 in Big East play and have seven games remaining. "This was a must win, you make the turn in the second eight (league) games," said Wainwright. "It isn't a great year until you finish it, and it isn't a bad year until you finish it."
Jim Calhoun on Allstate Arena
"I haven't been to the (arena) in years. They've made big improvements. I happen to be a romantic. I think it's a great place to play basketball. I really wish there was more like this. The floor is terrific, the sightlines are great. Seeing Ray (Meyer)'s name on the floor is very special."
Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information
The win snaps a three-game slide for the Blue Demons. DePaul's last win came against St. John's on 1/16 at the Allstate Arena.
DePaul has won 11 of its last 13 games at the Allstate Arena…Draelon Burns set a new career-high, scoring 26 points.
After scoring 26 points, Draelon Burns has led the Blue Demons in scoring two other times this season (then a season-high 20 at Georgetown and 15 points vs. Pittsburgh.)… With 9 rebounds, Wilson Chandler led the Blue Demons in rebounding for the 8th time this season.
Wilson Chandler's 14 points marked his 21st game this season in double-figure scoring… Jabari Currie dished out a season-high eight assists
DePaul's victory exceeds last season's total of 12 wins. The Blue Demons finished the season 2005-06 season 12-15 and 5-11 in the BIG EAST
DePaul improves to 12-0 when leading with five minutes left in the game… DePaul improves to 10-1 when leading at the half.
Sammy Mejia's three pointer at 18:17 in the second half moves him to 10th on DePaul's all-time three-point field goals with 101 made. He ties Willie Coleman who played for DePaul from 1997-99.
DePaul shot .778 (14-18) from the free throw line. It is the team's best free throw percentage since shooting. 1.000 (3-3) at Rutgers on 1/13/07. When the Blue Demons take more than five free throws it is their best free throw percentage since shooting .800 (4-5) against Chaminade on 11/21/06.
Official Box Score
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