Men’s basketball starts road trip with a win at DePaul

In a game that showcased every single side of the Marquette men's basketball team, the Golden Eagles defeated DePaul 76-61 at Allstate Arena Tuesday night.

Jerel McNeal's 3-pointer to open the game for the Golden Eagles was indicative of things to come. Almost entirely on the hot hand of McNeal, Marquette (20-2, 9-0 Big East) cruised to a 30-12 lead. Sophomore forward Jimmy Bulter caped off the opening run with an old-fashion three-point play.

McNeal had 14 points by the 12-minute mark and hit his first five shots from the field.

"I told my guys (during the) first TV timeout, I said 'Look, if he keeps shooting that way he's going to score 200'," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "He's a very opportunistic player and he's really playing with confidence."

But it was around that time that things took a turn toward the DePaul camp. Following a tip-in from DePaul center Mac Koshwal, senior guard Dominic James missed two free throws and a jumper off of the offensive rebound, while Butler grabbed another offensive board just to put up a couple more bricks from the line-all in a five-second span.

That was the beginning of a 14-3 DePaul run, during which coach Buzz Williams refused to use a timeout, bringing the score to 33-26 Marquette.

"I thought we were really good the first eight minutes of the first half," coach Buzz Williams said. "And I thought the next 12 minutes DePaul was perfect, and we were as bad as you could possibly be on both sides of the floor."

The Golden Eagles, however, were able to keep the Blue Demons from getting much closer before the half with the score sitting at 42-37 heading into the intermission.

After racking up 14 early points, McNeal finished with just 17 at the half and his output was matched by Walker's, who, during DePaul's run, hit three 3-pointers. He finished the half with 19 points.

"I don't think Marquette really expected us to come out and really hound them the way we did," DePaul junior Will Walker said. "We were just playing smart and taking what they were giving us."

DePaul was able to keep the game competitive in the beginning of the second half by crashing the offensive boards and getting put-backs. The Blue Demons finished the game with a 16-4 advantage on the offensive glass, which translated to a 13-2 advantage in second-chance points.

But per usual the Golden Eagles settled down not long into the second half and were able to play above the level of their opponent.

DePaul pulled within five points to start the second half but never came closer than that again as the Marquette guards flashed their toughness in repressing any hope of a Blue Demon upset.

McNeal finished with a team high 26 points to go along with four rebounds, six assists, five steals and four blocks, while going 8-for-16 from the field and 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. Fellow senior Wesley Matthews added 20 points and six rebounds, and James chipped in for 15 points and five assists.

"In the second half we were much more in character offensively and defensively," Williams said. "We were able to do a better job of not getting absolutely pounded on the offensive glass. I thought we did a better job of not giving them second opportunities."