With just a two-day turnaround from its loss to Notre Dame, DePaul went to the Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky and almost pulled off a huge upset. The Blue Demons kept it close the entire way, but in the end the #13 Cardinals made the plays down the stretch to eek out the victory.
"Our guys played hard and tough and we deserved a little better," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell
said after the game. "It didn't seem like we got any breaks down the stretch."
This one would've been sweet for a number of reasons, but it just wasn't to be. Relying on freshman has a funny way of doing that to a team. DePaul's top three scorers were freshman, though junior Jeremiah Kelly also scored eight points. Brandon Young had a good game with 15 points, four assists and two turnovers. Cleveland Melvin scored 12 points on 10 shots and it seemed like his quickness in the post bothered Louisville. Moses Morgan even continued his recent run of strong play with 8 points on 3-6 shooting, including 2-4 three-point shooting.
Those contributions, along with the hard work and focus of all the Blue Demons, gave this young team exactly what they wanted, a chance down the stretch. Unfortunately they couldn't seize the opportunity and get the win.
It was little things, like an inbounds play or an open three-point look that has to go down. The things that get better with time, with practice, with experience. Yes, Jimmy Drew's inbounds wasn't the best play, but he also hit the three that made it 60-57 with 1:24 remaining. You take some of the bad with the good.
It might've been because on the other side Rick Pitino was running out three battle-tested juniors. Kyle Kuric, Terrence Jennings and Chris Smith made the plays they had to make to win, even with senior Preston Knowles out due to injury.
The difference on Saturday night came down to the free throw line. The Blue Demons were 3-4, the Cardinals 12-18, and that made all the difference. Those easy points, though shooting 66% makes it a little harder, were what eventually sealed the deal for Louisville.
It was good to see the young Blue Demons focus. In the first half when they got up they didn't lose their composure or watch the lead disappear by halftime. Nope, it was a brand new 20-minute basketball game at the break with the scored tied at 34.
It's tough to beat a team on the road, it's tough the beat the #13 team, so much has to go right. The Blue Demons were about one step away.