DePaul men’s basketball extends streak with win over Chicago State

DePaul’s 500th game at Allstate Arena granted men’s basketball a 96-72 victory against Chicago State. Returning from an 82-55 against UIC this past Wednesday, the Blue Demons extend their winning streak to three games, now 4-3 in the season overall.

“We’re still very much a work in progress, and as a result, I’m not taking anything for granted because we can slip under the mat at any time and we’ve got to understand that… We’ve got to understand that and work real hard,” Leitao said.

A rough start in the first half had the Blue Demons down 5-13 against the Cougars. The competition between both Chicago teams proved heavy, with DePaul’s offensive side taking large hits against turnovers and blocks from the Cougars. But with forceful drives and an advantage of a 75 percent free throw average, DePaul came out on top to finish the first half at 49-38.

Despite errors from the first half, the Blue Demons managed to crawl up the scoring board in the second, to eventually lead with over 20 points. DePaul was 54 percent with field goals, compared to Chicago State’s 35 percent. Leading scorers from DePaul quickly emerged from freshman, Eli Cain, juniors, Tommy Hamilton, Billy Garrett Jr. and RJ Currington, and seniors, Aaron Simpson Myke Henry. This stretched the Blue Demons’ list to six leading scorers with double-digits; 20, 13, 16, 10, 11, 13, respectively.

Cain has quickly made his presence known on the court this year, alongside fellow freshman, Erten Gazi, with their impressive performances.

“Eli was good and Erten’s been getting better, and I’m encouraged,” head coach, Dave Leitao said. “Once they grow out of the things that they could get away with when they were younger and the things that they have to do now as college freshmen, then they’ll continue to get better. And Eli, I’ve said he’s got a chance to be really good, [so] as a result [he’s got to] put himself in a position to get better everyday [in order to] reach his potential.”

Currington has also been able to keep up his rounds of three-pointers since the Blue Demons’ game against UIC.

“He’s been practicing very well,” Leitao said. “His energy has been very good and he’s been starting to come around in the other facets that we’ve asked him to do. It was a great teachable moment when he sprinted in the second half and he got that corner three, ‘cause that’s the kind of energy he’s been bringing everyday in practice, so if you do that, you get rewarded with a little more playing time, so hopefully he’ll continue growing that well.”

Chicago State had only three leading scorers with double digits for the day, with senior, Jawad Adekoya, freshman, Fred Simms Jr. and junior, Quron Davis; 17, 22, 10, respectively. Junior, Trayvon Palmer took a hard elbow hit from Hamilton, but a little blood on the floor didn’t stop the Milwaukee native from continuing to play throughout the second half. As a result, Hamilton was ejected from the game.

Even with minor setbacks, the Blue Demons managed to hold off the Cougars and land a victory in their first game at Allstate Arena this season. They head back on the road against Drake on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.