The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

No. 1 ranked UConn hands DePaul a crushing 101-65 defeat at home

Max Clement
DePaul senior guard Jeremiah Oden dribbles towards the baseline in DePaul’s match against UConn Feb. 14, at Wintrust Arena. Oden shot 1-6 from the field in 22 minutes.

Once more, the UConn Huskies demonstrated its status as the nation’s top-ranked team with a commanding 36-point win over DePaul Wednesday night. The Blue Demons’ record drops to 3-21 for the season, continuing its streak of 25 consecutive regular-season conference losses.

Wednesday’s loss could be perceived as the most disappointing of the season for the Blue Demons, given the Huskies’ complete control from start to finish. It is worth noting that not a single DePaul player registered a positive plus-minus in the box score, underscoring the team’s overall struggle on the court. Plus/minus is a statistic that indicates a player’s impact on the game by measuring the change in the score while on the court.

“We played against a marvelous college basketball team,” interim head coach Matt Brady said of the team’s performance. “They (UConn) have nothing but answers at both ends of the court. You have to play at a really high level to be in the game with them.”

The Huskies got off to a strong start, leading 22-7 early in the first half after a 14-2 run where they found little resistance from the Blue Demons’ defense. By halftime, UConn was comfortably ahead, leading 52-29, having scored on 24 of its first 34 possessions.

UConn sophomore forward Alex Karaban played a pivotal role in the victory, recording 21 points, five rebounds and a block while shooting 5-of-8 from beyond the arc in only 29 minutes of action.

“Alex is a great shooter, and we have two of the best shooters in the country with him and Cam (Spencer),” UConn coach Dan Hurley said of Karaban’s performance. “Alex is money when he’s got space.”

DePaul struggled to score, shooting 22-of-54 from the field and hitting only six of its 20 three-point attempts. Despite facing difficulties finding open looks in the second half, they continued shooting from beyond the arc, even when shots weren’t going in.

“(UConn) scored way more than us, so we just started rushing things,” senior guard Jalen Terry said of the team’s inconsistent night offensively. “I think we just need to just slow down and play more defense.”

Sophomore guard Elijah Fisher experienced a tough outing, ending the game with a plus-minus of minus 40 and only making just three of his seven shot attempts, resulting in 10 points. Fisher is averaging 8.6 points per game in Big East play this season, indicating that he has yet to find his rhythm. 

Since stepping in as interim coach, Brady has increasingly voiced concerns about Fisher’s defensive efforts, expressing growing worries about his level of commitment on that end of the court.

“He doesn’t yet quite recognize the critical nature of playing hard on defense,” Brady said of Fisher’s defensive efforts recently. “He just doesn’t move fast, his motor isn’t great and that’s not something that can be taught. You have to draw that out of yourself.” 

Interim head coach Matt Brady addresses the media after DePaul’s match against No. 1 ranked UConn Feb. 14, at Wintrust Arena. DePaul lost 65-101. (Max Clement)

The reigning national champions saw six players from its nine-man rotation scoring double digits, with Karaban and freshman guard Stephon Castle combining for 36 points. The team shot 56% from the field and 46% from deep, marking one of its most well-balanced wins of the season.

“Just that type of depth, those are the teams that succeed in tournament play because you could survive a player or two having an off night,” Hurley said of how important the team’s depth will be moving forward as tournament play is near. “That’s why I think we’re built for the tournament.”

In the search for DePaul’s new head coach, rumors have surfaced about Bobby Hurley, who currently serves as the head coach at Arizona State and is the brother of Dan Hurley, as a potential candidate for the position. When questioned about the possibility of his brother joining DePaul, the Huskies coach refrained from elaborating, acknowledging that these are mere rumors.

However, Hurley shared thoughts on the potential scenario of coaching against his brother in the future, considering how it would unfold if such an opportunity arose, whether at DePaul or elsewhere.

“I think we would always prefer to not be in the same league,” Hurley said. “I think as we’ve gotten older, we’ve mellowed, so maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.”

As the season nears its end, the team sits with just three wins and a daunting streak of 25 consecutive regular season conference losses. Georgetown holds the record with 29 consecutive Big East losses. Without a reversal of fortunes, the Blue Demons risk finding themselves on the wrong side of history.

Despite the considerable odds and the adversity DePaul has faced this season, Brady has not lost faith and firmly believes there’s still a path for the team to finish the season strong.

“We’re going to win a game, but we’ve got to get better and that starts again with practice,” Brady said. “We need more out of these guys. We need more out of every single guy or we can’t get that win.”

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