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Marcius' Double-Double Leads DePaul Past Florida Atlantic
Sandi Marcius (19 pts, 12 reb) posted a double-double Thursday night


Sandi Marcius (19 pts, 12 reb) posted a double-double Thursday night

Dec. 12, 2013

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­­ROSEMONT, Ill. – When your big man has a career game and dominates inside, you know you’re in for a good night.

DePaul’s 6-foot, 10-inch Sandi Marcius had a career-high 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in leading the Blue Demons to an 81-70 victory over Florida Atlantic Thursday night.

What the partisan crowd at Allstate Arena witnessed was the emergence of the fifth-year player who had transferred from Purdue.

“I’ve been working a lot with coach Aguirre,” Marcius said of the tutoring he is receiving from the greatest player in DePaul history and former NBA great Mark Aguirre. “He’s been working with me on my balance and going straight up instead of dribbling too much.

“He is putting in a lot of time with me. We work out twice a day and it all adds up.”

Marcius’ improved footwork inside and his ability to finish down low was critical to the Blue Demon game plan of beating the Florida Atlantic zone by powering inside.

“They wanted us to shoot outside against the zone,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell after his team improved to 5-4. “We wanted to go inside and played very well against their zone.

“It’s good to see Sandi relax out there. The guys continued to look for him and had confidence in him. He controlled the backboards as well. It was by far his best game.

“We played big a lot because Sandi had it going. This is also going to help Tommy Hamilton IV. Defenses have to pay attention to the other side of the basket.”

Cleveland Melvin matched Marcius with 19 points while adding six rebounds. Providing balance with scoring from the outside was Billy Garrett Jr. with 14 points and Brandon Young with 12 points and six assists.

“Cleve played like a perimeter player, knocking down shots, moving the ball and occasionally hitting the glass,” Purnell said. “We had a nice inside-outside balance scoring.”

Melvin’s two-hand slam off a nice feed from Young put DePaul on top 69-60 with just over four minutes left in the second half. That gave the senior forward from Baltimore seven consecutive points. He and Marcius combined for a game-defining 9-2 run. After that, Florida Atlantic (3-7) never came within seven.

Garrett drilled a three-pointer down the stretch for a 74-64 Blue Demon lead. Pablo Bertone, who led all scorers with 30 points, answered with a three-point play and 2 minutes, 16 seconds on the clock.

Melvin and Marcius kept up their splendid play early in the second half. Marcius had two baskets and a steal while Melvin’s three-point shot put DePaul in front 54-47. They had nine of their team’s first 16 points of the second half.

Each time the Blue Demons tried to mount a run, Bertone scored to keep Florida Atlantic close. He made 10 of his first 16 shots.

Garrett’s runner and a Young drive in the lane made it 60-52 midway through the second half. A Jackson Trapp three-pointer brought the Owls within 62-58 with 7:30 left in the game. A pair of Melvin free throws restored a six-point advantage.

Melvin followed that with a three-pointer for a 67-58 lead and less than five minutes to go. Melvin leads the BIG EAST Conference in three-point shooting percentage and was 2-for-3 from that distance Thursday night.

This was the 1,400th win in DePaul’s illustrious basketball history.

“This is a storied program and one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” Purnell said. “It has great players and teams and all that tradition. I’m honored to be a part of such a storied program.”

After Marcius had given DePaul a two-point lead with his three-point play, Florida Atlantic went on a 15-6 run to pull ahead 22-15. Bertone led the way with three baskets in that stretch.

Falling behind by eight in the latter stages of the first half, the Blue Demons put together a 7-2 surge to come within 33-31.

DePaul’s M&M combination of Marcius and Melvin came up big down the first-half stretch. They combined to score the last 10 Blue Demon points with Melvin's tip-in at the buzzer giving the home team a 38-37 lead at halftime.

Marcius continued his progress towards becoming a force inside.  He teamed up with Melvin to grab seven of the team’s first 13 offensive rebounds.

“Mark Aguirre has been around the program in the summer and during the preseason,” Purnell said. “He is a great example for these guys.

“He is the best DePaul player of all-time and one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. He is someone our guys look up to because they all want to do what he did.”

Up next for the Blue Demons is a Sunday afternoon contest against Chicago State. Start time at Allstate Arena is 3:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on FOX Sports 1 and heard on WIND 560 AM.

Notes: The win was No. 1,400 in program history since the first fully-recognized season in 1923-24... DePaul is 5-1 when outrebounding the opponent this season... DePaul's streak was extended to 620 straight games with a three-pointer... under Oliver Purnell, the Blue Demons are 20-3 when scoring 80 or more points (5-0 in 2013-14)... Brandon Young's second three-pointer of the game moved him into 10th on DePaul's all-time scoring list... he entered the game three points behind Sammy Mejia (1,494 pts., 2003-07)... his first assist of the game also gave him sole possession of fifth all-time... he entered the game tied with Rashon Burno (439 assists, 1998-02) for fifth place... DePaul has won both meetings against Florida Atlantic... the Blue Demons are 69-43 all-time against the current lineup of Conference USA programs.