After going 4-7 in non-conference play, DePaul decided that they would start the new year and Big East conference play off with a clean slate. "We got a fresh start to the new season for us," said senior point guard Cliff Clinkscales. "We aren't worried about our record. We got 17 (Big East) games to go now. Anything can happen, we're never out of it."
DePaul earned their first victory over a ranked team since last Valentine's Day when they upset 12th ranked Marquette 72-67. The Blue Demons are now riding a three game winning streak.
"We wanted to make this a statement to our Big East competitors that we ain't no pushover," said senior guard Draelon Burns.
"I thought we ran into a team that played an outstanding game tonight," said Nova coach Jay Wright. "DePaul just did everything right. Draelon Burns got going early. We put a lot of attention on him. They shared the basketball and they got six players in double figures."
With junior Jabari Currie on the bench due to a pinched nerve in his neck, Clinkscales had to go 39 minutes at the point guard slot for the Demons. The senior captain dished out eight assists and scored 12 points. "I think I'm a point guard leader," said Cliff. "I think that's my job, score points or not."
DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright recognized Clinkscales' recent improvement. "He's played really well," said Wainwright. "Where he's really improved is his defense. I thought he did a wonderful job tonight trying to contain two really tough guards."
Burns led DePaul with 20 points. Fellow senior Karron Clarke contributed 14 points and eight rebounds. Senior center Wesley Green chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds. While freshman captain Mac Koshwal recorded his first double-double in Big East play with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Will Walker chimed in with 12 points off the bench.
It was no coincidence that four of the six in double figures for the Demons were seniors. "I thought our four seniors really hung in there," Wainwright remarked. "With seniors, there is such a sense of urgency with them."
"I'm overjoyed for Karron, Cliff, Wesley and Draelon with how loyal they've been and how hard they've worked. It's great to see a smile on their faces."
DePaul had struggled in previous games with their perimeter defense and free throw shooting. That wasn't the case on Thursday night as they held the Wildcats to 23.1% shooting from behind the arc and shot 81.8% from the charity stripe.
The Demons led by 16 with 11:05 to go in the game, but the Wildcats clawed their way back to within four with 3:30 remaining. The Demons were not to be denied on this night. Burns singlehandedly preserved the victory by making two free throws, stealing the ball on the next possession and scoring a layup to put DePaul up 72-64 with 3:57 to go in the game.
Villanova freshman Corey Fisher led all scorers with 23 points. Dante Cunningham finished with 16, while sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds was held to 11 points.
The Blue Demons have a short turnaround in league play as they welcome in the Providence Friars to Allstate Arena on Saturday night.
Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information
DePaul is 1-2 in BIG EAST openers and 5-12 all-time in conference openers... tonight's win ends DePaul's six-game losing streak in conference openers... DePaul's last win over a ranked opponent was a 72-67 victory over #12/13 Marquette on Feb. 14, 2007... DePaul is now 4-4 when leading at halftime this season... Draelon Burns moved into 42nd in career scoring and ninth in career three-point field goals... Burns finished the game with 1,034 points and 114 three-pointers... Burns has scored in double-figures in 10 straight games... in the Jay Wright era, Villanova is 4-3 in BIG EAST openers... the Wildcats are 1-2 when opening the conference schedule on the road under Wright... Villanova now leads the series 10-8 with the Blue Demons taking two of the last three meetings.
DePaul Upsets #17 Villanova
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