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Balanced DePaul rolls past Northern Illinois

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — It is still too early to proclaim it a turnaround season, but DePaul is feeling decidedly upbeat after earning four wins in its first five games.

Forward Myke Henry and guard Billy Garrett Jr. led a balanced attack with 15 points apiece, and the Blue Demons brushed off a late Northern Illinois comeback attempt to secure a 78-67 victory Tuesday at Allstate Arena.

“We’re being more consistent, and it’s paying off,” said DePaul forward Jamee Crockett, who scored 13 points and was selected the rivalry game’s most valuable player. “This year is a different year, different guys, different mentalities, and it’s good that we can pull out wins like this.”

DePaul forward Forrest Robinson scored 14 points, and center Tommy Hamilton IV had 13 as the Blue Demons won their second straight.

Crockett’s play is emblematic of DePaul’s promising start.

“Jamee’s been playing well,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “For the first time for a while, he’s been healthy. He’s been able to practice, and he’s got a really good attitude as a senior. I just think conditioning and being healthy really makes a world of difference.”

For the Huskies (3-2), guard Aaric Armstead scored a game-high 16 points, guard Darrell Bowie added 15 and guard Chuks Iroegbu had 15.

Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery said DePaul’s full-court press and 3-point shooting made the difference.

“That press really bothered us. I thought we prepared for it,” Montgomery said. “We probably caught them on their best night shooting threes. Eleven out of 22, that’s exceptional.”

DePaul led 38-29 at halftime, then opened its largest lead at 62-43 with 9:56 to play on guard Durrell McDonald’s baseline 3-pointer.

Northern Illinois used an 11-1 run to close the gap to 63-54 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Armstead and guard Michael Orris.

However, Garrett hit four consecutive free throws in a 41-second span, and Hamilton’s jam helped pushed the Blue Demons’ lead to 69-56 with 4:10 to play.

The win was the Blue Demons’ fourth in a row over the Huskies. DePaul leads the series 26-6, including an 11-1 mark at Allstate Arena.

The Blue Demons shot 28-for-52 (53.8 percent) from the field and 11-for-22 (50.0 percent) from the 3-point arc. Northern Illinois shot 24-for-50 (48 percent) and committed 21 turnovers but dominated on the board with a 34-22 advantage.

“We played well in stretches with energy, particularly on the defensive end with some of our pressure,” Purnell said. “We’ve still got work to do with rebounding mentality. … We’ve got to do a better job, but we controlled the game and got the job done.”

Crockett won the Jay Goedert Memorial MVP, named for the former Northern Illinois and DePaul assistant who died of a heart attack in 2004 at age 44.

NOTES: Northern Illinois used a 28-2 run in the final 10:40 last Sunday to pull out a 61-56 victory over Maine. It was the third comeback from a second-half double-digit deficit this season. … The Huskies entered Tuesday with a 3-1 record, their best start after four games since 2006-07. … Sophomore G Aaric Armstead led the team with a 13.8 scoring average entering Tuesday’s game. … Next up for Northern Illinois is a road trip to Eastern Illinois on Saturday. … Blue Demons F Myke Henry earned Big East weekly honors after averaging 25.5 points while shooting 61.8 percent shooting from the field. … Henry is among four DePaul players averaging in double figures. He led the team with a 19.3 average through Monday’s action. … DePaul F Jamee Crockett sank the 85th 3-pointer of his career, breaking a three-way tie for 20th in program history. … DePaul travels to Chicago State on Thursday and hosts Milwaukee on Sunday.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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