The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul’s early season struggles continue after losses to Northern Illinois and Iowa State

Will Robson
DePaul players Elijah Fisher, Da’Sean Nelson, Jeremiah Oden and Caleb Murphy huddle during a game against South Dakota, Nov. 14, at Wintrust Arena.

Wintrust Arena fell under the control of Iowa State’s fan base, resonating with “Cyclones” chants even during pre-game warm-ups, completely erasing any home-court advantage for DePaul. The majority of Cyclone fans filling the arena set the stage for the game, leading to a substantial 90-88 loss Friday, Dec. 1.

In his third season as head coach, Stubblefield has faced unexpected challenges with the team starting the year 1-6, marking the program’s worst season start since 2020. Unlike the previous two years, when he consistently led the team to strong starts, this season deviates from that pattern.

“We had older, more experienced guys like Umoja Gibson, Javan Johnson and guys like that that were out there on that floor,” Stubblefield said. “We had Javon Freeman-Liberty the year before and again, that’s no excuse. I’m not using that as an excuse because we still got enough to get it done with the guys that we have.” 

DePaul’s inexperience on the court became evident against the Cyclones, with senior center Jeremiah Oden standing out as the sole offensive contributor. He scored a season-high 25 points and shot a career-best 6-of-7 from beyond the arc.

“I feel extremely comfortable shooting,” Oden said. “I’ve been putting work in for years. It’s just trusting my shot and it’s credit to my teammates for finding me tonight.”

The Blue Demons defense faced a challenging task as six Cyclones achieved double-digit points, with sophomore guard Tamin Lipsey leading the way by securing his first career triple-double. He ended the game with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. 

Lipsey is the first Cyclone player to record a triple-double since NBA All-Star Tyrese Haliburton in 2020.

“It’s awesome, we see what he’s [Haliburton] doing in the league right now,” Lipsey said. “My name next to his is a blessing but just credit to the guys on the team for knocking down and knocking down shots, giving me those assists.”

At the halftime break, the Blue Demons kept the game close, trailing the Cyclones 41-37. However, the second half played out differently, with DePaul being outscored 58-43

“That’s a good basketball team that we played tonight,” Stubblefield said. “They’re a physical team that can hurt you in a number of different ways.”

The Cyclones started the second half on a 21-2 run and scored 30 points within the first ten minutes. DePaul’s early success in the first half came after the team shot 64% from three compared to the second half when they only shot 25%.

“We came out flat in the second half,” senior guard Chico Carter Jr. said. “We didn’t have that pop or the same energy we did in the first half and we’re going to correct it.”

DePaul’s last two home games had a road-like atmosphere, with the Cyclones and Northern Illinois Huskies’ fan bases taking over Wintrust Arena. This dynamic eliminated any potential home-court advantage the Blue Demons might have had against their opponents.

“We go into our games with the players on our team and our coaching staff and everybody in our program, so those guys are with us everyday,” Carter Jr. said. “Those are the guys that are with us in practice and in the weight room that see what we see. We try to put our best performance we can every time on the floor.”

The cheers of “NIU” filled Wintrust Arena, amplifying the disappointment for DePaul, who suffered an 89-79 loss Nov. 25. The loud support from the visiting Huskies’ fans, taking over the home arena, added an extra layer of let down for the Blue Demons.

“There are some things that we have to correct but with that being said, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Stubblefield said. “We gotta get back to work. We have got to get better and the goal right now is just to get better and get back to practice.”

DePaul scored a season-high 79 points and 39 rebounds, while Carter Jr’s 10 assists were the most by a DePaul player since a year ago when guard Umoja Gibson had 10 against Texas A&M. 

After the game, Stubblefield said senior guard Jalen Terry, who hasn’t played in the season yet, is still recovering from an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Caleb Murphy was unable to play in Friday night’s game against Iowa State due to a wrist injury. He is currently dealing with the injury and is listed as day-to-day.

DePaul is scheduled to hit the road for a matchup against Texas A&M Wednesday, Dec. 6. When the team returns home, their busy schedule continues with a five-game home stand hosting Louisville, Northwestern, Villanova and Chicago State.

“We just got to be able to put 40 minutes together and that’s our job,” Stubblefield said. “That’s my job as head coach. That’s our job as a staff is to put these guys in position to put a full 40 minutes together.”

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