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Sandi Marcius’ work inside helps DePaul earn 1,400th win

KANSAS CITY MO - NOVEMBER 26:  Tommy HamiltIV #2 DePaul Blue Demons leaps for rebound during CBE Hall Of

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 26: Tommy Hamilton IV #2 of the DePaul Blue Demons leaps for a rebound during the CBE Hall Of Fame Classic consolation game against the Texas Longhorns at the Sprint Center on November 26, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 185979635

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Updated: December 13, 2013 12:28AM

Mark Aguirre, one of DePaul’s all-time greats, has spent time working with the Blue Demons while he strives to complete his degree.

He spent extra time this week with 6-10 senior forward Sandi Marcius, and the results were instantaneous.

Marcius, a fifth-year transfer from Purdue, had 19 points and a career-best 12 rebounds in an 81-70 victory against Florida Atlantic on Thursday night at Allstate Arena, the 1,400th win in program history.

“He’s a very good student and a quick learner,’’ said Aguirre, who was on hand for the milestone victory.

“We worked a lot with Coach Aguirre on being in position and having good timing,’’ said Marcius, a native of Croatia. “The next thing was balance, getting on the boards and being quick.’’

Marcius led a team effort that saw DePaul bounce back from a sluggish start and an early eight-point deficit.

“We picked up our energy and communication on the defensive end,’’ coach Oliver Purnell said. “We felt if we got inside, they couldn’t handle us.’’

Senior guard Pablo Bertone led the Owls with 30 points. DePaul had four players in double figures, including Marcius, senior forward Cleveland Melvin (19), freshman guard Billy Garrett Jr. (14) and senior guard Brandon Young (12 with six assists), who returned after missing a game with a sprained ankle.

“Bertone was a handful,’’ Purnell said of last season’s Conference USA player of the year. “He’s the main reason I told the guys they were a skilled offensive team.’’

The Owls (3-7) trailed 38-37 at the half and never regained the lead or their early rebounding edge.

“That was the key in the second half,’’ Marcius said of DePaul’s 38-29 overall rebounding advantage. “We got those cleaned up in the second half, and that gave us an opportunity to pull away.”

“It was good to see [Marcius] relax,’’ Purnell said. “It was good the guys continued to look for him [inside], and he controlled the backboards. It was by far his best performance.”

Purnell is thankful to have ­Aguirre’s help.

“He sets a great example for our guys,” he said. “Being one of the best NBA players of all-time and probably the best DePaul player of all-time — when he speaks, they clearly listen because they all dream of doing what he did.’’

Young moved into 10th on DePaul’s all-time scoring list with 1,504 points and fifth on the all-time assists list with 445.

Junior Charles McKinney, who had been suspended for two games for violating team rules, was reinstated and played eight minutes. Junior guard Jamee Crockett didn’t play after spraining his right knee in practice Wednesday.


Twitter: @toniginnetti

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