■ DePaul holds on to knock off No. 5 Butler at Wintrust Arena for the Blue Demons’ first win in Big East play.
DePaul gets first Big East win in dismantling of No. 5 Butler
In just two weeks of play in the Big East, DePaul was on the verge of ruining everything it established during an impressive nonconference season.
But on Saturday, DePaul changed course with an elusive victory over a top-five opponent.
Paul Reed scored 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting and had nine rebounds, Jalen Coleman-Lands added 20 points, and DePaul upset No. 5 Butler 79-66 at Wintrust Arena.
Coleman-Lands was 3-for-5 from 3point range, and freshman Romeo Weems scored 11 points as the Blue Demons knocked off a top-five team for the first time since beating No. 5 Kansas on Dec. 2, 2006.
After a disappointing 0-4 start in the Big East, with close losses to Seton Hall and Villanova, DePaul (13-5, 1-4) left little doubt against Butler that its nonconference season wasn’t a fluke.
The 12-1 start included road wins at Iowa and Minnesota and a victory at home against last season’s national runner-up, Texas Tech.
“The last couple of weeks has not been easy for anybody, our locker room most importantly, but as I kept telling them, ‘We have stay the course, stay the course,’” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.
The victory over Butler (15-3, 3-2) reaffirmed that DePaul, which has been a bottom-feeder since joining the conference in 2005, won’t be an easy out this season in the Big East.
“It shows we have really good potential; it shows if we come together, like I said all year long, we can beat anybody, but also if we don’t, anyone in this league can beat us, and that has shown itself, too,“Leitao said.
Butler, which was coming off a home loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday, never led and trailed by double digits the entire second half.
The Bulldogs gave up a season-high 44 first-half points, the most since giving up 34 in a loss to Baylor.
Kamar Baldwin led Butler with 16 points and Jordan Tucker added 13. The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak against DePaul.
“They have a really good start to it, setting the tone early,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “It’s going be difficult if we’re putting people on the line 32 times in a game, that’s an issue.
“We’ve got to be able to defend without fouling. If we turn the ball over 17 times, that’s not the formula to have a chance in this league. We’ve got to be better as coaches. Our guys just have to understand every night in the Big East, this is what it is.”
DePaul’s Romeo Weems celebrates a 79-66 win against No. 5 Butler on Saturday.