Wednesday, December 12, 2018

DePaul 104, Chicago State 70: Blue Demons move to 6-0 at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season

Photo Credit: Justin Casterline- Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

CHICAGO— In need of some home cooking, the DePaul Blue Demons (6-2) cleaned up their plates in a 104-70 beatdown of the Chicago State Cougars (3-9) to move to 6-0 at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

The meal was served by a game-high 27 points from Max Strus, who bounced back from a season-low eight points in a 75-68 loss to Northwestern on Dec. 8.

“I had a ton of wide-open shots and at this level, you should make those,” Strus said. “My teammates found me in open positions and simply put the ball in the basket.”

Ball efficiency was at its peak as DePaul finished with 24 assists on 35 field goal makes with Cain being the ring leader with a season-high 11 assists.

Jalen Coleman-Lands continued his progression in DePaul’s offense with his fourth double-digit scoring output in the last five games with 13 points. While making all of five of his free-throws, Coleman-Lands went 2-of-9 from long range, but coach Dave Leitao believes the shot will be more consistent over time.

“[Jalen] is playing better defense, sharing the ball and shot-faking. While he is not making the shots he is accustomed to, I don’t worry because that is the best thing he does,” Leitao said. “I told him if you continue to involve yourself in the other parts of the game, then the shot is going to fall very naturally.”

Delshon Strickland produced a career-high 25 points, on 7-of-13 from the field in 22 minutes in defeat for Chicago State, but fouled out with 45 seconds left with a technical after a confrontation with Leitao.

The first 4:42 of the game saw both teams focus on perimeter attempts as CSU stayed even with DePaul at 8-8.

The Cougars remained within range as they started to attack the rim and made their first six free throw attempts of the game, which countered poor shooting on the floor.

DePaul’s offense began to hit its stride as timely assists from five different players highlighted an 11-0 run to go up 28-16 on CSU, with 7:29 left in the first half. CSU managed to go on an 8-0 run to pull to within single digits, but DePaul responded and took a 46-30 lead to halftime behind 14 assists.

The supreme ball movement from the Blue Demons carried over into the start of the second half as Strus found a cutting Femi Olujobi to score the first two points on a layup. The Blue Demons would not look back as their lead grew to as many as 37 points. The finish would be marred by an ejection of coaches Leitao and Lance Irvin with 45 seconds left in regulation.

“What happened in the end was not something that I had planned out, but it was a reaction to one of [Strickland] saying something to me and in retrospect should have turned and walked away,” Leitao said. “I said something back to the player and the referee thought he heard something egregious enough to call double technicals.”

Looking Ahead:

With most Big East schools either idle or playing one game this week, the Blue Demons will play their second game in three nights on Dec. 14 as the UIC Flames come to Wintrust Arena for a 6 p.m. tip. The Cougars make another short trip as they go to Evanston, Ill., to face the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.