Senior guard Brandon Young benched in DePaul’s loss to Xavier
BY TONI GINNETTI Staff Reporter January 20, 2014 5:38PM
Xavier's Semaj Christon (0) looks to pass the ball in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. Creighton won 95-89. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Updated: January 20, 2014 10:44PM
The player who drew a dozen NBA scouts to Allstate Arena on Monday was Xavier sophomore Semaj Christon, who didn’t dis-
appoint in his team’s 84-74 victory against DePaul.
But the player Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell might be more concerned about is senior guard Brandon Young, who didn’t play in the second half after a one-sided first half that ended with
DePaul trailing 50-32.
‘‘I made the decision we weren’t getting the attributes and leadership we needed, so we made a change,’’ Purnell said in reference to co-captain Young, who had seven points, two assists and three steals. ‘‘Christon is a really good player. We said, ‘Keep him out of transition,’ and we inexplicably let him get away.
‘‘Our seniors need to step up, no question about it. It’s the middle of [Big East] conference season.’’
Christon scored 19 of his 27 points in the first half, with Young and others unable to contain him. A Demons team made up mostly of reserves picked up the pace in the second half and closed the deficit to 72-65 with 5:50 left, but that was as close as DePaul would come.
‘‘I’ll tell the truth: It came down to leadership, and that’s on me, too,’’ freshman guard Billy Garrett Jr. said. ‘‘Coach was looking for
five who would play hard, but we didn’t play hard enough long enough. Xavier is a really good team, but we didn’t have enough leadership in the first half, and I take responsibility.’’
Garrett was on the floor for most of the game, though, scoring 18 points. Cleveland Melvin led the Demons (10-10, 2-5) with 25 points.
Garrett was a focal point in a rough-and-tumble second half, at one point being called for a technical foul after stealing the ball and being fouled by the Musketeers’ Dee Davis.
‘‘He said something to me, and I said something back,’’ Garrett said. ‘‘I got caught.’’
Garrett and Melvin scored 27 of DePaul’s 42 points in the second half. But they struggled to shoot free throws and combined to go
13-for-22 from the line.
‘‘We just weren’t aggressive in the first half, and they took it to us,’’ Melvin said. ‘‘We backed down. Coach told us to pick it up, get back in transition. I needed to do more.’’
Freshman center Tommy Hamilton IV didn’t play in the second half after being elbowed in the chest, and junior guard Charles McKinney limped off with an ankle injury with 14:30 left.
‘‘But we had enough opportunities,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘You have to make the point-blank shots and the free throws.’’