After 11 consecutive seasons without more than 12 wins, DePaul is entering new territory.
Although it’s only the first week in December, the Blue Demons are playing their best basketball since winning 20 games in the 2006-07 season.
Even with leading scorer Max Strus sidelined due to a lower-body injury Monday, the Blue Demons overcame a sluggish first half and an early-second-half deficit to pull out a 65-50 nonconference win over Florida A&M in Chicago.
Femi Olujobi scored 16 points and added seven rebounds for the Blue Demons (5-1). Eli Cain finished with 15 points, and Jalen Coleman-Lands added 13. Sophomore forward Paul Reed had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Blue Demons.
The Rattlers (2-7) were paced by Justin Ravenel’s 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Florida A&M dropped its seventh consecutive game.
The Blue Demons improved to 5-0 at home for their best home start since their last winning season.
DePaul entered the game averaging 79.2 points per game but struggled in the slow-paced game without Strus spreading the floor with his outside shooting. The Blue Demons shot 4 of 21 (19 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Strus, a 6-foot-6 senior guard, was a last-minute scratch. He is averaging 18.8 points per game.
The Rattlers shocked the Blue Demons by seizing a 7-0 lead following a 3-pointer by Rod Melton Jr. with 16:38 left in the half. However, DePaul grabbed the lead at 10-9 on an Olujobi basket at the midpoint of the opening half.
DePaul led 29-24 at halftime, and Coleman-Lands hit a jumper and Olujobi scored on a layup to give the Blue Demons a 33-24 edge with 18:54 remaining.
However, the Rattlers scored the next 11 points, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers, to go up 35-33. Ravenel’s trey with 16:16 to go put Florida A&M in front 35-33.
DePaul responded with the next five points to take the lead for good.
—Field Level Media