ROSEMONT, Ill. — DePaul was short on sleep but not on performance Sunday.
An early morning chlorine leak rousted the team and other guests from a nearby hotel and forced the Blue Demons to another site for a few hours of sleep.
But DePaul was quite energized a few hours later as Billy Garrett Jr. scored 18 points while forward Myke Henry and center Tommy Hamilton IV each added 15 in an 83-61 nonconference decision over Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.
“It was a pretty decent outing considering our guys were woken up at 3 a.m. at the hotel and we were outside for an hour-and-a-half,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said.
“I told them after them game that we didn’t deal with (recent) adversity around exam time but it speaks to the growth of this team in the fact that we were able to deal with this and come in and beat a capable team pretty soundly.”
The Blue Demons (6-1) won their fourth straight and are off to the program’s best start since 1993 when they went on to a 10-1 opening run under former coach Joey Meyer.
Guards J.R. Lyle and Steve McWhorter each had 13 points as the Panthers (4-5) saw a two-game winning streak snapped.
Forward Jamee Crockett had 13 while guard Durrell McDonald added 10 for the Blue Demons in the Allstate Arena clash.
“Starting (the season) off strong was what we wanted to do,” Garrett said. “I’ve been with these guys since the summer and I’ve seen our talent. I’ve seen what we we’re capable of.”
DePaul never trailed, building a big lead early and extending the margin to as many as 19 points in the second half before Milwaukee briefly rallied.
“It’s kind of how we’ve been with this group,” Panthers coach Rob Jeter said. “We’re going to be a team that’s a little up and down. I think you can see stretches of us playing a style of basketball in a way that gives us a better chance.”
The Panthers used improved shooting to cut the margin to nine at 59-50 on Lyle’s jumper with 9:20 showing.
But Crockett and Henry each had 3-pointers over a span of 1:18 as DePaul opened a 65-52 lead with 7:22 to play and then pushed it over 20 in the final minute.
“We had a chance and made a couple runs, but ultimately their outside shooting and their free-throw shooting was phenomenal,” Jeter said. “It just never allowed us to get the next step … but when you put yourself in a 17, 20-point deficit you need a lot more.”
Sunday’s game was the finale of a four-game run in eight days — all DePaul wins.
DePaul, 14-1 in the all-time series, sprinted to an early 17-4 lead out of the opening tip.
Five different Blue Demons combined to hit 6-of-11 tries (54.5 percent) from beyond the 3-point arch including a pair from Robinson. Hamilton had 10 first-half points for DePaul.
Milwaukee managed just 10-of-31 (32.3 percent) from the field in the first half.
For the game, the Panthers were 26-of-64 (37.5 percent) while DePaul shot 26-of-49 (53.1 percent) and 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) on 3-point shots. The Blue Demons were also 21-of-23 on free throws with Garrett going 11-of-11.
NOTES: Milwaukee G Steve McWhorter had not previously been known for scoring but owned a 16.6 points and six rebounds per game average through eight games entering Sunday’s game. … The Panthers are 15-93 against teams from the current Big East. … Milwaukee is back home Wednesday for a match with No. 2 Wisconsin and hosts Montana on Dec. 14 before a run of five straight road games through Jan. 4, 2015. … Last Thursday’s 84-60 victory over Chicago State gave DePaul coach Oliver Purnell a 13-1 career record against Chicago area opponents. … DePaul came into Sunday 29th nationally in offense, averaging 79.2 points per game. … The Blue Demons are 70-19 against current Horizon League members. … DePaul travels to George Washington on Thursday.
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