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December 16, 2012DePaul won an unexpectedly close game against Northern Illinois Sunday evening, defeating the Huskies 69-64 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL. DePaul has now won six games in a row, improving to 8-3 on the year. Junior Brandon Young led DePaul with 15 points and five assists, and Jamee Crockett added 14 points.
Pivotal Moment: DePaul and NIU traded baskets down the stretch, but the Blue Demons seized control in the last four minutes of the game. Crockett hit a three with 4:05 left in the game to give DePaul a 57-56 lead. From then on, DePaul made crucial free throws to maintain its lead. DePaul went on a 7-0 run to build a 61-56 lead which they never relinquished. NIU still managed to get back into the game through Akeem Springs two 3pointers, but DePaul held on and sealed the victory.
Key Matchup: Abdel Nader vs. Charles McKinney. Nader had an impressive showing for NIU, finished with 20 points in only 24 minutes of play. Nader scored 15 points in the second half alone. He made his 20th point (on a three pointer) with 4:20 left in the second half. After Nader's three, head coach Oliver Purnell made an adjustment, subbing in McKinney to defend Nader. Nader wouldn't score again. Upon entering the game, McKinney played physical defense on Nader, who was called for an offensive foul on the first possession with McKinney guarding him. Nader attempted a three on another possession, but McKinney was draped all over him, leading to a miss. Although McKinney only finished with seven points in 16 minutes, his stellar defense on Nader down the stretch secured the victory for DePaul
Stat of the Game: DePaul made 21/25 free throws (84%), and made their last ten free throws in the game. The last ten free throws came in the most crucial moments for DePaul, late in a very close game. Coming into the game, DePaul was only making .678% of its free throws.
Player(s) of the Game: Charles McKinney and Brandon Young. McKinney's defensive exploits were noted above, and Young was DePaul's leading scorer. Young made key free throws late, and was at his best attacking the rim, which led to shots for him, or it allowed Young to create opportunities for his teammates.
Next for DePaul: DePaul (8-3) plays its next game Saturday against UMBC (2-9) at the Allstate Arena.
Notes: Crockett broke out of his shooting slump from three point land Sunday evening. Crockett made .376% of his three's as a freshman, but that number has dropped to .071% this year. He made 2/4 against NIU, and one of his trifectas gave DePaul a 57-56 lead with 4:05 left in the game.
Derrell Robertson Jr. started in place of Donnavan Kirk, making it his first start of the year and second in his career. He played 26 minutes, and scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and added two blocks. He made all four of his free throw attempts as well.
Worrel Clahar continued his strong play off the bench. He had eight points, six rebounds and three assists and made clutch free throws late in the game. He led DePaul in rebounding against NIU, and also played the most minutes despite coming off the bench. Clahar's six rebounds give him a season total of 53 (4.8 rebounds per game), surpassing last season's total of 48 rebounds (1.5 rebounds per game). December has been a good month for Clahar. In four games as a reserve (all wins) he's averaging 9.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.3 steals.
Five star center Diamond Stone from Milwaukee, WI was in attendance tonight, taking in the game on an unofficial visit. Stone, a sophomore, has an offer from DePaul, and is one of the top big men in the class of 2015.