West Virginia Climbs Past DePaul

The visiting West Virginia Mountaineers kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive as they survived a test from the DePaul Blue Demons and prevailed 85-73 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Wednesday night.

West Virginia (20-8, 9-6) took advantage of a poor shooting night at the free throw line by the DePaul Blue Demons (10-17, 5-10) and jumped out to an early lead. The Mountaineers, who led by as many as 24 in the first half, went into the locker room at halftime leading 44-29. It was a first half marred by the Blue Demons shooting just four of 16 from the charity stripe. After a series of three offensive foul calls against DePaul, Blue Demons coach Jerry Wainwright voiced his displeasure and picked up his first technical foul of the season.

"I don't know if I really deserved it," Wainwright said. "I'm a pretty mild-mannered guy. I made a point, he took offense to how I made it."

The Blue Demons charged back in the second half. DePaul closed to within five points at the 14:04 mark and trailed by just seven with 1:43 remaining in the game, but could get no closer than that.

DePaul senior Draelon Burns led all scorers with 31 points coming of the bench for the Demons. Burns, who only scored 6 points in the first half, led the DePaul comeback attempt with 25 points in the second half and provided a spark on defense with two steals.

"I was more proud of how he played on the other end," Wainwright expressed. "I thought for the first time in several games he gave us a lift on the other end."

Guard Alex Ruoff led the way for West Virginia with 22 points on six of 10 shooting. "He actually just kind of broke out of a slump today," said WVU coach Bob Huggins. "He's had a hard time shooting."

Forward Joe Alexander contributed with 17 points and Da'Sean Butler chipped in with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.

DePaul freshman Darquavis Tucker scored 15 points, but was just six of 12 from the charity stripe. Freshman captain Mac Koshwal corralled 14 rebounds, scored six points, but was 0 for seven at the free throw line. For the game the Demons missed a total of 19 free throws a shot a paltry 42.4% from the line.

Sophomore Will Walker continued to be DePaul's most consistent player with another double-digit performance of 13 points.

The Blue Demons close out their home slate with Senior Day on Sunday as DePaul takes on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Game Notes from DePaul Sports Information: Burns' 31 points was one short of a career-high and marked the third time this season he has gone over the 30-point mark... Walker has now scored in double figures in nine of his last 10 games... Cliff Clinkscales continues to lead the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio and had three assists with no turnovers.

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