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DePaul hopes to discover fire in Big East tournament

DePaul guard BrandYoung left drives basket past Louisville guard KevWare during second half an NCAA college basketball game Rosemont Ill.

DePaul guard Brandon Young, left, drives to the basket past Louisville guard Kevin Ware during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Rosemont, Ill., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. Louisville won 79-58. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: April 4, 2013 6:33AM

The upcoming Big East tournament might be the last of its kind, with Syracuse in it for the last time before leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference and the seven
departing non-football schools moving closer to a final separation by as early as the end of this season.

For DePaul, there’s one certainty about the conference tournament.

‘‘That is our NCAA tournament,’’ coach Oliver Purnell said. ‘‘That’s the approach we have to take.’’

That makes the game Sunday at South Florida ‘‘a very important game for us,’’ Purnell said,
because it will affect seeding for the conference tournament.

South Florida (10-17, 1-14) is in last place, one game below the Blue Demons (11-17, 2-13). While the 14th and 13th seeds both will play the first night of the tournament on March  11, one will get a better ‘‘next day’’ turnaround by playing at night again instead of the afternoon, should it advance.

More important is the simple fact DePaul needs to win a game with only three remaining, including meetings against No. 12 Syracuse and No. 23 Pittsburgh.

‘‘It’s like every other game: We have to try to guard and get a win,’’ junior guard Brandon Young said. ‘‘We have to work hard in practice to try to get a win.’’

Even Louisville coach Rick
Pitino acknowledged DePaul’s years of losing have affected its ability to win.

‘‘Once they taste winning, they are going to have a tremendous hunger for it,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s tough every night not to get rewarded when you play hard.’’

Purnell is counting on the psychological lift a victory would bring.

‘‘Getting a win is as important as anything at this point for our guys to feel better about themselves and build confidence,’’ he said. ‘‘That sets up an opportunity to be confident going into the next game and a chance to build some momentum going into the tournament.

‘‘Where our season is right now, that has to be our short term. Our intermediate term is to try to get on a roll and go into the [Big East] tournament with confidence.’’

Young and junior forward Cleveland Melvin continue to be the Demons’ best scoring
options. Melvin recorded his
seventh double-double of the season (20 points, 10 rebounds) against Connecticut and followed that with 20 points against Louisville. He’s the only player to rank in the top eight in the Big East in scoring (16.5 points) and rebounding (7.3).

Young leads DePaul, averaging 16.7 points.

Junior forward Victor Rudd, who averages 11.7 points and 7.1
rebounds, leads the Bulls, who have lost 10 in a row but have won their last seven against DePaul.

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