DePaul earns second straight victory with win over Auburn

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Despite shooting only 55 percent as a team from the free throw line, Cleveland Melvin came through in the clutch with two major free throws to seal an 80-76 DePaul victory Friday over Auburn in the SEC/Big East Challenge.

With 14 seconds left, Melvin stole the ball at midcourt that sent him to the line in a two point game by being fouled on the breakaway. Melvin, coming off a 30-point game against Fairfield, had another strong outing. The third-year Blue Demon scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his ninth career double-double.

However, it was Brandon Young that sparked DePaul in the second half after trailing 46-42 at halftime. Young hit a momentum-changing three-pointer when the game was tied at 52. The Blue Demons never trailed from that point on.

Young finished with 19 points and five assists, including shooting 4-6 from beyond the arc.

“[Young] is maturing and obviously he can score,”head coach Oliver Purnell told ESPNU after the game. “We take him off the ball at the beginning of the game to get some points for us and then late, we want him to control the ball because he’s such a threat to drive.”

Auburn set the tone of the game with a fast pace. Auburn guard Frankie Sullivan exploded for the Tigers and had a career-high 28 points, 20 of which came in the first half.

Tigers’center Rob Chubb also had a solid game with 17 points and 13 of Auburn’s 35 rebounds.

“We loved the pace,”Purnell said. “We felt like we got in their gas tank before the game was over and we started to rebound.”

While the Blue Demons never trailed after Young’s three-pointer, the Tigers did tie the game at 72 with 3:33 left.

“When they got back in it we let up rebounds,”Purnell said. “That’s a work in progress for us. At the end we got all the big rebounds.

“We had to rebound. They were really killing us on the boards.”

Auburn ended up out rebounding DePaul 35-30.

Still, DePaul made its shots to ensure the Tigers didn’t steal the game. Senior Worrel Clahar came through with a big three that gave DePaul a 76-72 lead. Clahar had 11 points off the bench.

The Blue Demons shot 50 percent (12-24) in the second half, while holding Auburn to 38.7 percent (12-31) shooting.

“I thought we did a great job of getting the ball into Cleve and then Cleve did a great job getting that steal,”Purnell said.

With the win, DePaul improves to 4-3 on the year as Auburn drops to 2-5. DePaul next plays Chicago State Dec. 5.