DePaul Falls Just Short of 1st Big East Win; Scare Cincinnati Bearcats

Oliver Purnell

Given the numerous factors in the Blue Demons' favor:

1.) How tough DePaul looked at #15 Louisville on Saturday, losing by just two baskets

2.) How bad Cincinnati looked at Pittsburgh the very same day

3.) All the internal college basketball drama the Bearcats have going on with star forward Yancy Gates, who was suspended in that Pitt game.

4.) The law of averages favor DePaul winning a conference game very soon

it was reasonable to expect All State Arena's home team to triumph over Cincy Tuesday night. But alas, it was not to be.

The Bearcats led the entire way, enjoying a "touchdown" lead for much
of the first half before extending the lead to 15 before halftime. And
they never looked back, winning in Rosemont by the final of 71-68.

However, the Demons made it very interesting in the end. They cut the
deficit to four in the final minute, three in the final second. Jimmy
Drew's three point attempt with 00.4 left would have tied it. But the
shot rimmed out. It was later ruled that the potential game-tying shot wouldn't have counted anyway. The release was after the buzzer.

The Demons' conference losing streak is now 23. Their last BE win was over Marquette
at home 51-50 on January 20th, 2010. Including conference tournament
games, the Demons are now 2-48 in their last 50 versus the Big East.
Their last, and only winning season of Big East play came in the 2007,
when they were 9-7.

The biggest difference was at the charity stripe. The Demons
converted just 8-16. Cincy was also foul at the foul line, shooting just
5% better. However, they had 6 more attempts.

"Free throw shooting, kind of let us down there at the end," DePaul Coach Oliver Purnell said.

Still, facing the Bearcats on a night in which they could be without
Gates, their leading scorer provided ample opportunity to break into the
W column.

According to WLWT in Cincinnati:

Gates boarded the bus with his team Monday night bound for
Chicago. But Coach Mick Cronin said he hasn't made up his mind yet
whether Gates will play.

Cronin benched Gates for what he called a consistent lack of
effort in practice. Gates apparently also got into a verbal altercation
with one of UC's assistant coaches.

I also went to WKRP in Cincinnati for their story on the matter; but
all I found was some sophomoric ramblings by Venus Fly Trap and Dr.
Johnny Fever.

Gates didn't start, but played 16 minutes and scored five points. The
Bearcats were led by the trio of Sean Kilpatrick (19 points, 4 assists,
5 rebounds) Ibrahima Thomas (16 points, 7 rebounds) and Cashmere Wright
(10 points). The troika scored 45 of Cincy's 71 total points.

DePaul was once again led by their youth. Cleveland Melvin led the team in scoring with 20; Brandon Young added 16.

"We got to keep working; I was disappointed in the way we played in the
first half in terms of some preparation stuff. We weren't consistently
as aggressive and tough as we needed to be, and we need to get some
individual guys playing a little better and doing a little more...but as
a team we're obviously playing better," Purnell said.

The Blue Demons had very little advantage in the homecourt. The
announced attendance was 7,643, but the number attending was likely much
less than half that amount. Traffic probably played a significant role.
Although roads around Chicago are clear again, many 4-lane
thoroughfares are de facto 2-lane, due to the massive glaciers of piled
up snow that currently reside roadside.

And of course, a 6pm tip isn't exactly optimal when you have a home
arena adjacent to the world's busiest airport. Rush hour traffic on the
way to O'Hare International airport is not good for anyone involved.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He doesn't have a real nickname, but he is also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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