After a euphoric week of fun after beating Texas Tech, with the hashtag #RankDePaul trending, and the BigEastBias.com writing 7 or 8 articles about the AP voters being cowards for not ranking the Demons, DePaul came out flat, missed Eleven free-throws, turned the ball over fifteen times in the first half, and ultimately lost to the Buffalo Bulls by 5.
The first 18 minutes of the game were brutal for both teams. DePaul couldn’t get out of their own way and invented new ways to turn the ball over. The Bulls could not make a shot. For most of the half, Buffalo was shooting in the low 30 percents and less than 20% on 3-point shots. However, the Bulls began to get easy buckets off of the increasingly careless turnovers.
Anyone who has every coached basketball worries mostly about turnovers at the top of the key, because in general, it is extremely difficult to get back to contest when the opposing team’s point guard gets a clean steal. This occurred several times leading to easy 2s each time. Buffalo made 17 points of their 37 1st half points directly off of turnovers.
With 1:30 to go in the half, it looked like DePaul had settled down and had miraculously taken a 30-29 lead on a Jaylen Butz layup. Unfortunately, Buffalo, who had been shooting cold, suddenly heated up.
1:13 Jayvon Graves Dunk. Bulls up 1.
0:57 Missed Jumper by Paul Reed
0:42 Roanldo Segu makes a 3-pointer. Bulls up 4.
0:29 Jalen Coleman-Lands misses a jumper.
0:21 Ronaldo Segu makes another 3-pointer. Bulls up 7.
0:02 Paul Reed misses a fade-away jumper.
DePaul down 7 at the half.
2nd Half Debacle
On twitter and in the arena, DePaul fans were imagining the tongue lashing that Coach Dave Leitao was giving his players. I was certain that the defensive intensity would be increased, and the guys would start hitting some baskets. Spoiler, that’s not what happened.
The Bulls came out of the shoot by hitting a 3 pointer within the first 8 seconds of the half. Bulls up 10.
Jalen Coleman-Lands misses. Layup Bulls, up 12. JCL misses again. Layup Bulls, up 14. Moore misses. Bulls miss one. Weems misses a layup.
Bulls hit another 3 pointer. Bulls up 17.
18-0 run against the 18th best Defensive team in the country.
Well, formerly the 18th best defensive in the country.
DePaul had 17:30 to make up 17 points. Totally doable, but they would need to start hitting shots.
Unlike the 1st half, the Blue Demons did not turn the ball over, they just couldn’t make a shot. It took them 8 minutes to make their 11th point of the half on a 2 by JCL.
DePaul went on a little run to cut the lead to 9, and the crowd was starting to get into it. Butz contested a dunk and got the rebound. In the chaos, Reed got the ball near the basket for what would be a layup to get it to 7 with nearly 8 minutes to go. But then this happened:
The referees missed a clear goal tend. Buffalo immediately nails 2 three pointers before DePaul score again. So instead of a 7 point game, the Demons had to start a new rally down by 15 with 6:42 left.
With 1:42 DePaul got it down to 4 on a JCL layup. The Demons got a massive defensive stop and had a chance to get it to 2 or 1, but Moore got blocked near the basket, and that was it.
These guys pushed the pace. These guys got back on defense. They ran the Demons off the boards. This team of mites out-rebounded DePaul 53-40. They had 17 offensive rebounds. Many ended with killer 3s.
As everyone else was losing their minds playing awful, Paul Reed had his normal excellent game. 18 Rebounds. 5 Blocks. 4 Steals. He was not efficient in the scoring department. He finish 6-12 from 2 and 0-3 from 3. I’d prefer if he got the ball on the blocks a few more times.
The dude was supposed to dominate, and Butz dominated on the offensive end. 5-7 from the field with 6 rebound . The fact that he ONLY TOOK 7 SHOTS was a high reason why DePaul did not win.
As mentioned in the game preview , the Demons had significant height advantages over the Bulls at every position but point guard. A rational human would say, “How about we pound it into Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz? Why don’t we sprinkle a little Nick Ongenda?”
The team collectively shot 38.9%, making 7-18 free-throws. It truly was a team effort. 7 different players missed free-throws. Any player who took a free-throw missed at least 1. If they shoot 70% for the game, the Demons win by 1. Buffalo took 2 less free-throws and made 5 more than DePaul. The Demons lost by 5.
With Devin Gage out, Moore has had to play the most minutes for the Blue Demons with no logical back up. Oscar Lopez, Jr. has been trying to fill the role, but it is clear that it is not his most optimal role. Lopez was known as a shooter coming out of school. Correct me if I am wrong, but Lopez Junior played on the same AAU team as Arizona’s Nico Mannion, any guess who the point guard was?
Moore had a team leading 6 turnovers in the first half.
Hall came into the game about 5 minutes in. In the next 3 minutes, he committed 3 turnovers. He did have a steal in that time period, which resulted in an immediate turnover. He finished the half with 4 total turnovers. Not good times. Kenpom.com gave Hall a 28 offensive rating. 100 is average.
Nick Ongenda Sighting
Nick only got into the game for 2 minutes, but managed to have 2 blocks and a hockey assist. This guy has talent, and I hope the coaching staff can find places to get him more playing time. This small stretch was quite exciting.
Not All Things are Bad!
DePaul is still on the early season Joe Lunardi Bracketology. I can attest to how rare it is that the Demons show on this. The last time was in January 2015, when DePaul inexplicably won their first 3 Big East games, and Lunardi’s policy is to put the team that is ‘leading’ the conference in as the conference representative. Of course, the Demons went 3-12 the rest of the way. But I enjoyed that one week, since it was the only time we’d been on the bracket in about 10 years.
As the great Paul Reed says:
UIC on Saturday.