The DePaul (10-13, 5-6) offense in the first half was stagnant as the Blue Demons trailed 32-21 at intermission. DePaul shot a mere 23.3% from the field and trailed by as many as 16 in the first half.
The Blue Demons came out of the locker room with renewed energy and shot 50% from the field in the second half. DePaul's charge was sparked by senior guard Draelon Burns who led all scorers with 22 points after scoring only two in the first half. It was the Blue Demons largest comeback of the season.
Burns spoke to his teammates at halftime. "I told everybody it certainly was my fault. I came out lackadaisical and we had to work hard to come back in the second half hard."
"We knew if we pick it up on defense it will help our offense better," said sophomore guard Will Walker. Walker, who started the game in place of Mac Koshwal, scored a career high 21 points.
"It was two different games," said South Florida coach Stan Heath. "The first half was exactly what we wanted, good tempo. We got the ball to the big guy (Kentrell Gransberry). He made a lot of good things happen. Whatever (DePaul coach) Jerry (Wainwright) told them in the second half worked. Once they got a little momentum going, we just couldn't put up a fight. I thought Burns really came to life in the second half. Will Walker I thought was more aggressive."
What did Wainwright do to adjust at halftime? "I couldn't remove the pianos from their back," said Jerry. "I know I couldn't do that. I just tried to find a combination of guys that went back to playing the game the way it's supposed to be played, enjoyed it and had some fun with it. I thought the key to the game was that our defense extended the post passes to Gransberry."
Gransberry led USF with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Guard Solomon Bozeman contributed with 13 points. While guards Dominique Jones and Jesus Verdejo chipped in with 11 apiece.
South Florida led until the 8:45 mark of the second half when Walker's jump shot put the Blue Demons up 49-48. DePaul never again relinquished the lead.
Koshwal, who did not start because he missed an academic responsibility, grabbed nine rebounds and scored five points before fouling out with 4:23 remaining in the game. Gransberry was impressed with the DePaul freshman captain. "In film session, I noticed that he's a very good face-up guy," Gransberry said. "He kind of reminds me of Kevin Garnett in the way he faces you up. You need to limit his touches and don't let him get in front of you. He's a very good player."
Walker played 35 minutes and has been on a tear for the Demons in Big East play. "He really, really has embraced his role," Wainwright said. "I think he has a chance to be a terrific four year player for us."
"We learned that we'll never quit," Walker said. "We'll just keep playing, playing, playing no matter what the score is. We'll play our hardest."
The Blue Demons ended a four game losing streak. It was the tenth straight loss for South Florida. "I think this is a turning point for us and I hope we keep playing as well," remarked Burns.
Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information
Will Walker scored a career-high 21 points... his previous high of 19 points came on January 21, 2008 against Florida Gulf Coast... Draelon Burns led the Blue Demons with 22 points in his 18th double-figure scoring game this season... Karron Clarke and Mac Koshwal led DePaul with nine rebounds apiece... DePaul leads the all-time series, 15-4... the Blue Demons have won their last six meetings with USF... DePaul is now 10-13 overall and 5-6 in BIG EAST Conference play... the Blue Demons are now 4-7 in the season when trailing at the half... DePaul overcame its largest deficit of the year, trailing by 16 points. The previous high deficit overcome was 15 points against Rutgers on Jan. 19, 2008.
DePaul Gets Back on Winning Track
We Are DePaul Top Stories
Garrett and Cain: Destination UpDePaul's Billy Garrett Jr. and Eli Cain have played just one year of college basketball together, but they already share multiple things together: a bond of friendship; an…
We Are DePaulYesterday at 7:52 PM
2016 DePaul Women’s Hoops Preview: FearlessThe letters comprised one of the larger handwritten words on the DePaul locker room whiteboard, a word that symbolized, synthesized, and synchronized the Blue Demons' season last…
We Are DePaulFriday at 1:09 PM
Brandon Cyrus Determined to Make an ImpactEntering his freshman campaign at DePaul, Brandon Cyrus’ role appears unknown.
We Are DePaulFriday at 6:32 AM
Sports Illustrated now included w/ membershipToday WeAreDePaul.com has another exciting announcement for Blue Demon fans!
We Are DePaulThursday at 6:32 PM
DePaul to Scrimmage MinnesotaBefore the college basketball season begins, the Blue Demons will play the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a “secret scrimmage” game in Minnesota.
We Are DePaulThursday at 10:11 AM