On a night when NBA scouts flocked to Allstate Arena to watch a potential top-five draft pick in Providence guard Kris Dunn, the DePaul men’s basketball team stole the show.
Led by a career-night from senior forward Myke Henry, the Blue Demons upset the No. 11 Providence Friars by a score of 77-70, securing the program’s biggest win in recent memory.
“We played hard,” Henry said. “We played together. We hit a little adversity, but we stuck through it and got the win.”
But despite the shocking nature of DePaul’s victory, Providence coach Ed Cooley said it was because DePaul played better.
“This wasn’t an upset,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said. “They outplayed us today. They were better than us. Just because we have a number beside our name, it is not an upset. You have to come prepared to play. I was really disappointed in our group.”
Henry finished the night with a season-high 27 points and 11 rebounds, thoroughly dominating the Friars at both ends of the floor. The Chicago native connected on 12-of-18 shots, going 2-of-4 from long-range.
Junior point guard Billy Garrett Jr. was instrumental in DePaul’s victory as well, compiling 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“They helped us in a lot of ways,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said. “Myke’s all-around play. His scoring, his offensive rebounding. Billy’s gamesmanship, and just seeing the court. It gave us a good tempo and a good rhythm. And it helped us when they came back at us late.”
Another crucial aspect of DePaul’s victory was its ability to contain Dunn on the offensive end. Dunn, a Wooden Award candidate and the reigning Big East Player of the Year, was held to 14 points on 5-of-20 shooting.
“You gotta credit their defense,” Cooley said. “They did a really good job. They crowded him. Made him give the ball up. But the shots aren’t always going to go in. I was more disappointed in our effort and our level of concentration.”
DePaul started the game on an 8-0 run, but Providence climbed back immediately. The score was tied at 38 entering halftime, and the Friars jumped out to an early three-point lead to begin the second half.
The Blue Demons answered with an 11-0 run, however, and would maintain their lead throughout the remainder of the game. Providence mounted one last comeback attempt, closing the gap to three with 29 seconds remaining, but Henry broke the Friars’ full-court press and scored a layup during the ensuing possession.
Junior guard Darrick Wood threw down a breakaway slam with 10 seconds remaining, putting an exclamation mark on a monumental victory for DePaul basketball program.
“For this year, just trying to persevere and what we’ve been going through, it was a really good win,” Leitao said. “And obviously being at home, it was a big win.”
The Blue Demons will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday, as they head on the road for a showdown with the Creighton Blue Jays.