DePaul men’s basketball’s upset bid falls short at No. 1 Villanova 68-65

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DePaul men’s basketball’s upset bid falls short at No. 1 Villanova 68-65

DePaul guard Brandon Cyrus (4) tries to block a shot by Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds (45) as DePaul forward Joe Hanel (33) looks up during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

DePaul guard Brandon Cyrus (4) tries to block a shot by Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds (45) as DePaul forward Joe Hanel (33) looks up during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

AP

DePaul guard Brandon Cyrus (4) tries to block a shot by Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds (45) as DePaul forward Joe Hanel (33) looks up during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

AP

AP

DePaul guard Brandon Cyrus (4) tries to block a shot by Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds (45) as DePaul forward Joe Hanel (33) looks up during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

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It’s safe to say DePaul men’s basketball beat the 27-point spread.

DePaul (7-7, 0-1 Big East) pushed No. 1, undefeated, reigning-national champion Villanova (13-0, 1-0) to their absolute limit on Wednesday night as the Blue Demons fell 68-65.

Junior forward Tre’Darius McCallum led the Blue Demons with 19 points and seven rebounds. Villanova senior guard Josh Hart led the game with 25 points.

The first half was sloppy as DePaul went 0-9 from three, but turnovers and missed shots by the Wildcats kept the Blue Demons in the game. DePaul was having some success in the paint, but Villanova’s prowess from three gave the Wildcats an eight-point lead at the half with a score of 32-24.

In the second half Villanova looked like they were pulling away. They led by as much as twelve with 10:20 to go, but then DePaul did what they’ve been doing all season: they came back.

A 12-0 run by the Blue Demons erased the Wildcat’s advantage and suddenly it was tied at 51-51 with 7:23 to go. The game went back-and-forth down into the final minute when Villanova gained a three-point lead with 9.9 seconds to go off of a dagger three by Hart. Senior guard for DePaul Billy Garrett Jr. responded quickly as he went coast-to-coast and picked up a bucket and the foul to bring the game within one with five seconds to go.

On the other end, junior guard Jalen Brunson went to the line after he was fouled with 4.4 seconds to go. He hit both free throws and it was a three-point advantage for Villanova, leaving DePaul with one shot to tie it. Garrett ended up with the ball and put up a three from deep at the top of the perimeter, but the shot clanged off the rim and Villanova ended up with the victory.

It was the Big East opener for both teams and an encouraging performance for DePaul, who had an inconsistent non-conference slate. The Blue Demons host St. John’s at Allstate this Sunday at 1 p.m.