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Young Finishes with Game-High 24 in Loss to Creighton
Senior Brandon Young posted a season and game-high of 24 points in Tuesday's setback.

Senior Brandon Young posted a season and game-high of 24 points in Tuesday's setback.

Jan. 7, 2014

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­­ROSEMONT, Ill. – A strong start and a late-game surge wasn’t enough for DePaul to take down one of the nation’s top teams.

Despite a season-high 24 points along with five assists, two steals and two blocks from Brandon Young, the Blue Demons fell 81-62 to No. 23 Creighton Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.

Creighton improved to 13-2, 3-0 in the BIG EAST Conference while DePaul is 8-8, 0-3. Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott led the Bluejays with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists while four of his teammates scored in double figures.

Trailing by 15 in the second half, the Blue Demons came battling back. A Tommy Hamilton IV three-point play followed by Hamilton’s three-point shot capped off an 11-3 DePaul surge. Hamilton finished with nine points in 19 minutes.

After a McDermott basket, Young came back with a three-point play that narrowed the deficit to 62-56 with 7 minutes, 15 seconds left in the second half.

“We were playing defense, playing team basketball and playing together,” Young said about the rally. “But we have to stay focused for the entire 40 minutes. That’s how we’re going to win games in the BIG EAST---playing together and playing defense.”

Creighton scored seven unanswered points for a 69-56 lead. Young and Cleveland Melvin (16 points, six rebounds, two blocks) hit big shots to keep their team within striking distance. But Ethan Wragge’s deep three restored a 14-point margin with more than three minutes left.

Young bounced back with authority after going scoreless in last Saturday’s loss at Marquette.

“It was just me being more aggressive tonight,” Young said. “I can score as many points as I want, but all that matters is getting the win. We’re going to get better.”

Creighton opened up a nine-point lead early in the second half after Jahenns Manigat connected from beyond the arc. Young had four of his team’s first six points after intermission.

Avery Dingman (16 points) converted a four-point play to cap off a 9-2 burst as the Bluejays moved in front 51-38. Creighton opened the second half making seven of its first 11 shots.

That 11-3 run was DePaul’s best sequence, and coach Oliver Purnell would like to see more of that for a longer period of time.

“We pressed them and did a better job of getting the ball inside,” Purnell said. “We played with great tempo, took care of the ball and were getting to the free-throw line.

“But after that, we squandered three or four opportunities with turnovers and poor shot selection. You can’t have that in a tight game.”

Melvin and the Blue Demon defense combined to hold McDermott nearly six points under his average and forced him to shoot 6-of-16 from the floor.

“He’s the best college basketball player in the country and we didn’t want him to get 35 points,” Purnell said. “We did a good job against him but didn’t get out to defend their three-point shooters. That’s the second-best thing they do after McDermott. Focusing that much on McDermott opened up their three-point shooting.”

DePaul took the fight to Creighton early, shooting nearly 54 percent midway through the first half with a balanced scoring effort. A Hamilton three-pointer provided a 17-13 lead.

Behind a consistent offense, the Blue Demons never trailed in the first 13 minutes. A DeJuan Marrero layup off a Young feed put DePaul ahead 23-21.

A Young score in the paint followed by a Melvin three-pointer made it 28-24. The Bluejays responded with five unanswered points that evolved into a 9-1 run for a 34-29 advantage.

Young halted the Bluejay surge with a three-pointer, but a Devin Brooks foul shot and McDermott’s layup at the buzzer left Creighton with a 37-32 lead at halftime.

DePaul has less than 48 hours to prepare for a 6 p.m. BIG EAST clash Thursday at Butler that will be televised on FOX Sports 1.

Notes: With his six rebounds, Cleveland Melvin moved into 19th place all-time… Brandon Young scored a season-high 24 points… Young reached double-figures for the 12th time this season and 86th in his career; he reached the 20-point plateau for the 25th time in his career… The Blue Demons are now 6-2 this season when Melvin and Young combine for 30 or more points… Billy Garrett Jr. was held scoreless for the first time in his career (16 games)… The Blue Demons have now hit a three pointer in 627 straight games… DePaul's last game without a three was Feb. 16, 1993 against UAB at Allstate Arena… DePaul leads the all-time series 15-8 versus Creighton… This was the first meeting between the programs as members of the BIG EAST… The Blue Demons had a three game home win streak snapped.