Dec. 30, 2017
CINCINNATI, Ohio - DePaul led by as many as 16 points at the Cintas Center, but No. 6/5 Xavier came back and held off the Blue Demons in a 77-72 decision on Saturday. Max Strus scored a career-high 33 points and Justin Roberts added 16 off the bench to lead the Blue Demons.
Strus opened the scoring for DePaul with a jumper as the two sides traded the lead throughout the first half. Neither team led by more than four points until Roberts and Strus nailed back-to-back three's followed by a jumper from Brandon Cyrus that gave DePaul a 37-29 advantage with just under two minutes until intermission.
Both teams made free throws in the final 90 seconds of the first half and DePaul held a 39-31 lead at halftime. The Blue Demons held Xavier to just a .281 field goal percentage in the first half while Strus scored 16 and Roberts finished with 10 in the opening stanza.
DePaul scored 12 of the first 16 points of the second half with two Strus free throws following a Xavier technical foul giving the visiting team a 51-35 advantage.
Over the next four-plus minutes Xavier whittled away the DePaul advantage as two free throws by Trevon Bluiett brought the Musketeers to within eight at 57-44. Following another basket by Bluiett, Roberts and Marin Maric scored to push the DePaul advantage back to 10, but it would be the last time the Blue Demons held a double-digit lead.
Xavier (14-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) then went on an 11-1 run and tied the score at 60-60 with just over eight minutes left in the game.
The advantage switched sides two more times before a bucket by Xavier's Kerem Kanter gave the Musketeers a two-point lead they wouldn't relinquish over the remainder of the game. Strus pulled DePaul (7-7, 0-2 BIG EAST) to within a point with 1:23 left on his sixth three-pointer of the afternoon, but Xavier scored the game's last four points for the 77-72 final.
The 33 points by Strus match his career high set earlier this season against Northwestern and he added six rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Roberts totaled 16 points along with four boards, an assist and a steal. Tre'Darius McCallum finished with nine points, eight rebounds and a pair of steals.
J.P. Macura led Xavier with 19 points.
DePaul returns to Wintrust Arena on Tuesday night for an 8 p.m. against Georgetown. The game can be seen on FS1 and heard on WSCR 670 AM.
- DePaul is now 7-2 when leading at the half this season... the Blue Demons finish the month of December with a 5-3 record.
- Justin Roberts recorded his second career game in double figures.
- Max Strus matched career highs with 33 points and six three-pointers... he also scored 33 against Northwestern on Dec. 16... he also made six three's against Northwestern and against Portland on Nov. 26... Strus has scored at least 20 points in seven of the last 10 games with two 30-point games in that span.
- DePaul committed a season-high 23 turnovers... the previous high of 17 occurred twice at Illinois and against Villanova.
- Xavier leads the series, 12-9... the Musketeers have won nine of 10 meetings in BIG EAST play.