Now that was a freaking game! The DePaul Blue Demons defeated the National Runner-Up Texas Tech Red Raiders in overtime, 65-60, winning a game that they have lost so many times in the past. This game was drama in three acts.
Act One: The teams turn the intensity to 11
As was mentioned by the TV guys, this was a rock fight. After 5 minutes of game time only 12 points in total had been scored. The defensive intensity was palpable. The constant switching by DePaul gave slivers of openings for Texas Tech to shoot, which generally ended in misses.
Tech’s end to end defensive harassment took its toll on Charlie Moore. Moore tried to make shots fall, but it wasn’t happening. It took Moore 33 minutes to get his first points.
On the offensive side, Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz were keeping the Blue Demons afloat scoring 9 points a piece. The scoring was from point blank aggressively attacking the basket and rebounding and getting put backs.
Much of the same continued into the 2nd half. No team held of lead bigger than 4 points until less than 6 minutes to go. At that point, behind Terrence Shannon the Red Raiders went on a mini-run. A couple of 3 pointers and a running jumper put Tech up by 6 with 3:20 left. Jalen Coleman-Lands made a layup and Shannon turned the ball over, which lead to Butz tipping in a Coleman-Lands miss. After the teams exchanged intense buckets we got to Act Two.
Act Two: The Free-Throw Miss and 3 Point Make
Down by 2 in the last 25 seconds of regulation, directly after a Jaylen Butz dunk, DePaul called a timeout to set up a press. The last thing that DePaul wanted was for Texas Tech to inbound to Davide Moretti, as mentioned in the pregame post, Moretti had not missed a free-throw all year, and has shot over 92.5% last year. The Demons forced Tech to pass into Holyfield and trapped the hell out of him. While in the process of prying away the ball, Chris Beard, Tech’s coach, called a timeout from the sideline. The ref who granted the timeout was on the other side of the floor where Beard stood. It was close to whether Tech even had possession. If the Red Raiders did not have possession, the coach would not have been able to call timeout. Bad luck for the Demons.
On the ensuing inbound play, DePaul laid down another perfect trap, but unfortunately, the vise lock was on Davide Moretti. As DePaul players, laid their hands on the ball, and Moretti began to panic, the referees bailed him and Texas Tech by calling a foul.
After the game, when processing the loss, Beard said, “There has never been a guy in this game that shot 100% from the line. Even the best shooters miss from time to time.”
Well, Moretti was 100% from the line for the year. He calmly sank the first shot to put Tech up by 3. As the game hung in the balance, Moretti second shot went in and out and Butz grabbed the rebound, getting the ball to Charlie Moore to set up a potential game tying shot. Moore found Romeo Weems on the right side of the floor. Weems pivoted to his left to bring the ball to the top of the key and found Jalen Coleman-Lands open on the left wing for a shot. Coleman-Lands, who started the game with a 3 pointer and had a potential buzzer beater waved off at the half, drilled a game tying 3 pointer with 8 seconds left. Tech had time to set up a shot to win, but Charlie Moore poked the ball away from Moretti to set up overtime.
Let’s Watch the Beautiful Tying Shot Again and Again
Act Three: Overtime
Much like the beginning of the game, the defense dominated right out of the gate. Other than a bogus foul called on Weems leading to Moretti starting a new streak of free-throws, no points were scored from the field until Shannon gave Tech a 4 point lead with 2:08 to go (on a play that he moved his pivot foot, which most referees would call a walk).
It was now JCL time.
Coleman-Lands with a huge 3 to cut the lead to 1.
JCL causes Moretti to foul out, which leads to an excellent drawn up play to Weems for the dunk. Crowd was getting a little crazy.
This lead to Tech’s Shannon’s last big moment of the game, when he hit the 3 to take the lead back. Coleman-Lands decided to take the lead back immediately.
This lead to Shannon trying to answer again, but after coming up short DePaul grabbed the rebound and move the ball to their offensive side of the court.
Now this was one of my problems in the moment. Leitao called a timeout with 25 seconds to play. The issue was that this allowed Beard to communicate to his players to foul Jaylen Butz. Butz had a truly awful game at the free-throw line.
Leitao broke the huddle with Butz still in the lineup. As soon as the ball was inbounded, Tech fouled Butz away from the ball for two attempts to increase the 1 point lead.
It worked out as expected. Butz missed the first shot. On the second attempt, Weems and Reed forced Tech to make a mistake and knock the ball out of bounds. New life!
The Leitao took Butz out of the game. The Demons inbounded the ball to Moore who expected to be fouled. He was hacked, but no foul was called and the ball was knocked into the backcourt leading to a race for the ball. Moore went all out diving to push the ball away from Tech defenders. Coleman-Lands got to the ball first and was fouled.
Coleman-Lands sunk the free-throws and DePaul was on the way to Victory!
JCL was super clutch in the final minutes of regulation and all of overtime. He started the game with a 3 pointer, and it felt like he was going to go off. That isn’t what happened going scoreless the rest of the 1st half. Coleman-Lands didn’t get another bucket until a mid-range jumper with Under 12 to go in the 2nd half. Then it was silence. 5 points in the first 37+ minutes of the contest. However, when he got started, he couldn’t stop, as he scored 5 points over the last 2+ minutes of regulation and 8 in overtime. JCL also took a key charge to get Moretti out of the game and hustled to collect the ball that Charlie Moore had desperately dived for in the dying moments of overtime, which ended up clinching the game after JCL made 2 clutch free-throws.
Coleman-Lands ended the game 4-10 from 3 point land and 2-4 from inside the arch. He lead the team in kenpom.com’s Offensive rating.
Jaylen Butz *minus free-throws
Jaylen Butz was the big matchup winner. He was a consistent presence cleaning up around the rim. In the 1st half rock fight, Butz kept the Demons in the game scoring 9 of his 17. He ended up with 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Excellent game (outside of the free-throws.)
Reed wasn’t as efficient as he normally is, but in a game in which every play was contested, Reed stood out. He ended up with 18 point, perfect from the free-throw line, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. He was named the game MVP by kenpom.com. His offensive and defensive presence were noted by all.
Weems is such an incredible team player. All he wants to do is win. His controlled emotions paired with his obvious basketball smarts/making the right play is such a joy to watch.
The one that got away. Lincoln Park’s own, DePaul’s formal verbal commit, Terrence Shannon was absolutely awesome in his Chicago College debut. Tech had a way of winding the clock down to single digits before taking shots, and Shannon was the main main in the second half to create and finish. He had 18 of his 24 points in the 2nd half plus overtime. It was his coming out party.
Charlie Moore’s Shooting
Moore did other things for sure. He had 10 assists and he went all out diving on the floor to deflect a ball to Coleman-Lands to essentially clinch the game. However, Moore had a serious problem with the Red Raider defense. Tech harassed him constantly and dared him to go to the basket, and when they did force him to the basket, he had to finish with his left hand. Evidently Moore doesn’t like that, and it showed. Moore ended up 2-15 from the field, including 0-4 from 3 point land.
Moore had 5 steals and stopped a potential game winning shot in regulation. As time was winding down, he poked the ball out of Moretti’s hand. He turned the ball over 3 times, which in retrospect, is pretty good. Twice the ball was stolen from behind, because Tech never quits on a play.
3-11 could have cost the Demons the game. I know you practice them Jaylen, but please keep practicing them. We need you to make them buddy!
The College Basketball Power Index is a 100% computer model that probably has some flaws. But hey, I will embrace any algorythm that has DePaul in line to be a Number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament! We will take a look at this as the year continues.
A couple of more teams have lost their first game, so the Blue Demons are becoming the closest undefeated team to counties in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, and of course Illinois. Fun Stuff.