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Dominant second half rallies DePaul basketball past Chicago State

DePaul's BrandYoung Chicago State's DeJuan Marrero scramble midcourt for loose ball Wednesday nights contest Chicago State.

DePaul's Brandon Young and Chicago State's DeJuan Marrero scramble at midcourt for a loose ball in Wednesday nights contest at Chicago State.

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Updated: December 6, 2012 12:00AM

City rivalry games rarely are good for DePaul, and its matchup Wednesday against Chicago State was no exception.

Pumped up by hosting a Big East team on the day their school
announced it would join the Western Athletic Conference next season, the Cougars pushed DePaul to its limit before the Blue Demons escaped with a 74-64 victory.

Without a victory against a Division I school this season, Chicago State shot a heady 53 percent in the first half, scored 14 points off 12
DePaul turnovers and danced into the locker room with a 44-30 halftime lead.

It took a 13-2 run by the Blue
Demons to start the second half and the air coming out of the Cougars’ shooting for DePaul (5-3) to leave the Jones Convocation Center with a victory.

‘‘We didn’t come out and play hard enough in the first half,’’ said Blue Demons guard Brandon Young, who led all scorers with 21 points. ‘‘Everybody wants to beat DePaul for bragging rights, but it’s how we have to prepare ourselves mentally.

‘‘We were very stunned with how they came out [ending the first half with a 27-6 run]. We looked down on them, but it doesn’t matter what the jersey says. It wasn’t an easy win.’’

Chicago State (2-8) dominated the first half, but the situation
changed in the second. Not only did the Blue Demons come out of the break with a 13-2 run, but they held the Cougars without a field goal
for the first nine minutes of the
second half. Chicago State scored only 20 points after halftime.

‘‘This was still a great day for us,’’ said Cougars coach Tracy Dildy, who was an assistant at DePaul from 1997 to 2002. ‘‘It was a great college game, a great atmosphere, and I’m appreciative of DePaul playing us. We’re going to continue this series.’’

Chicago State was led by Matt Ross’ 20 points and 10 rebounds. Quinton Pippen added 14 points, Greg Tucker 13 and Clarke Rosenberg 10.

DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Worrel Clahar added 11 points and four assists.

‘‘Clearly, it was a game of two halves,’’ Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘Chicago State was poised in the first half, and we weren’t alert enough to guard them. Then a little frustration set in at the end of the first half. But I’m pleased with how the team responded in the second half.’’

The game marked the return of DePaul swingman Jamee Crockett, who had missed four games since injuring his right knee
Nov. 17 against Austin Peay. Crockett had seven points and four
rebounds off the bench.

‘‘It’s always great to have the whole team back, and Jamee gave us a couple of key baskets,’’ Young said.

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