DePaul men’s basketball improves to 2-0 with 80-62 win over Drake

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There would be no meltdown this time.

Guard Billy Garrett Jr. scored 15 points, Henry had 13 and the Blue Demons shot 55 percent to secure a comfortable 80-62 win over Drake in DePaul’s first home game at Allstate Arena for the season. DePaul (2-0) controlled the game throughout after blowing a 16-point lead for a one-point win over UIC on Friday.

“We emphasized staying focused throughout and playing hard the whole time coming out of the UIC game,” Garrett said. “I think we did that today for about 35 minutes. At halftime, we talked about doing the little things, and we did that. It resulted in an 18-point victory.”

It was a solid performance from the Blue Demons, who shared the ball throughout and made wise decisions. Fluid ball movement allowed the Blue Demons to shoot 45 percent (9-20) from beyond the arc.

Henry played a huge role for DePaul as he was able to attack the rim and make explosive plays. Henry had multiple highlight-reel quality dunks that grabbed the attention of the crowd.

“I didn’t expect to dunk, but I went aggressive and I dunked it,” Henry said. “I’ve got a big frame so I guess that helps me. It helps the team because it can get me to the lane or get my teammates open.”

DePaul’s defense was much better. Drake shot only 32.1 percent (9-28) in the first half, which let DePaul lead for 18:35 of the half. Drake (0-2) led for only 1:09, where they went ahead 4-3 at the beginning of the game.

DePaul led 38-25 at halftime.

“I thought we looked really good in the first half,” DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell said. “We rebounded the ball better (33-26). There was a lot of improvement there.”

Drake forward Chris Caird led his team with 19 points and Jordan Daniels had 17 points, but no other Drake player had more than six.

In the second half, DePaul did have some slippage on defense. Drake shot 53.8 percent in the half, but weren’t able to close the gap at all.

Part of the reason DePaul was able to stay in control was free throws. The Blue Demons went 17-21 from the line compared to 12-24 against UIC.

The team still played well after forward Tommy Hamilton fouled out with 7:03 to play. Hamilton finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

“I thought our guys really adjusted to inside-out to outside-in, moving it and driving and making ourselves hard to guard,” Purnell said. “I thought our defense in the last 10 minutes picked it up.”

DePaul’s next game is Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. against Lehigh. Purnell said his team needs to get better in the short term, starting with their exams, and then when they regroup on Friday for practice.

“I told everybody they have personal responsibilities to make this team better,” Purnell said. “Lehigh has looked really good in the little bit I saw them. We’ve got to be better.”