DePaul starts strong, #10 Louisville finishes much stronger.

ROSEMONT—Rick Pitino thinks Russ Smith is the key to the season for No. 10 Louisville, and the shifty guard believes he can help the Cardinals make another long run in March.He sure looked ready on Wednesday night.Smith scored 17 points, Peyton Siva had 16 and Louisville pulled away for a 79-58 victory over DePaul that ran its winning streak to four ahead of a big matchup with No. 12 Syracuse this weekend.

“When Russ Smith passes the basketball, we have a big-time chance of being a great team,” Pitino said. “When he doesn’t and he gambles on defense, we’re just a mediocre team. But if we can get him to totally buy in offensively and defensively, we have the makings of a great team, and he did that in the second half.”

Smith seemed emboldened by Pitino’s challenge.

“If Coach has faith in me, then I have to have faith in myself to get the job done,” said Smith, a junior who also had five assists and four rebounds while passing 1,000 career points.

Chane Behanan added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinals (23-5, 11-4 Big East), who held the Blue Demons to 36 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers. Louisville is unbeaten since it lost 104-101 in five overtimes at Notre Dame on Feb. 9 in the longest regular-season game in Big East history. With the victory over sliding DePaul, the Cardinals moved into a tie with Marquette for second place in the conference behind Georgetown.Pitino’s team meets the Orange in the Carrier Dome, and Notre Dame faces Marquette in a big slate of games for the Big East on Saturday.Brandon Young scored 22 points and Cleveland Melvin had 20 for the Blue Demons (11-17, 2-13), who have dropped three in a row and 12 of 13 overall.

“I think we just let up,” Young said. “We can go as hard as we want to. We just kept letting them do what they like to do. I don’t think we stopped it real well.”

Melvin converted a layup to get DePaul within eight with 7:22 remaining, but the Cardinals responded with a 10-0 run to put it away. Siva started the key spurt with two free throws and closed it out with a layup that made it 71-53 with 3:33 remaining.

“Every good team is going to make a run,” Smith said. “They jumped out on us early and then we responded pretty well. I guess it was the simple fact we obviously didn’t want to be embarrassed, so guys stepped up and we made some big plays.”

Young made a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining to extend DePaul’s streak with at least one to 607 games. But the Blue Demons were just 1 for 9 from long range.
Montrezl Harrell scored 11 points for the Cardinals, and Gorgui Dieng finished with 10.Louisville and DePaul combined for 23 turnovers, 19 personal fouls and a slew of missed layups during a frenetic first half that included several conferences between the referees and upset coaches trying to angle for calls during the physical play.

“The game shouldn’t be that physical,” Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell said. “It shouldn’t be that more physical than an NBA game, particularly as we get close to tournament time. We want games to be entertaining and teams to score and that kind of thing. It shouldn’t be that physical.”

Louisville was leading 21-16 when the 6-foot-6 Behanan stole a pass near midcourt, dribbled in and threw down a massive dunk over DePaul guard Worrel Clahar. Behanan was originally whistled for an offensive foul but it was changed to a block on Clahar after a short discussion by the officials, leading to a spirited argument from Purnell.

“When I stole the ball it was kind of weird how he didn’t try to come up and guard me. He just stayed there,” Behanan said. “I don’t know. I drew a check that I cashed.”

Behanan then made the free throw to give the Cardinals an eight-point lead with 4:21 remaining. The sophomore forward tacked on another jumper and Luke Hancock hit two foul shots with 43 seconds left in the first half as Louisville carried a 34-25 lead into the break.The Cardinals shot just 38 percent in the first half, but held the Blue Demons to 27 percent shooting. Neither team had a 3-pointer at the break, combining to miss 10 shots from long range.

NOTES—Over the past five seasons(including this one),DePaul is now 7-79.

Northern a bit better this time vs EMU, but still no match

DEKALB—Glenn Bryant and Derek Thompson scored 14 points apiece and Eastern Michigan’s defense stifled Northern Illinois for the second time this season, defeating the Huskies 53-41 Wednesday night.Eastern Michigan (13-15, 6-7 Mid-American) won for just the second time in its last six games by limiting Northern Illinois to 24 percent shooting. That’s a marked improvement for the Huskies (5-21, 3-10) from a 42-25 loss to the Eagles earlier this season, when they shot just 13.1 percent for the game (an NCAA record low in the shot clock era) and tied a record with four points in the first half while shooting just 1 for 31 from the field.This time around, Northern Illinois hit 10 of 42 shots from the field, including 5 of 17 3-pointers (the Huskies were 1 for 33 beyond the arc in the first game). They also committed 18 turnovers.Mike Davis led Northern Illinois with nine points.

Carmichael leads ISU past Missouri State in an 86-50 blowout

NORMAL—Tyler Brown scored 25 points and Jackie Carmichael added 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Illinois State to an 86-50 victory against Missouri State on Wednesday night.Johnny Hill had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Redbirds (17-13, 8-9 Missouri Valley), who never trailed en route to ending a three-game losing streak.Anthony Downing scored 12 points to lead the Bears (9-21, 6-11).ISU led 43-25 at halftime and poured it on in the second half. The Redbirds used a 13-0 run to take a 59-34 lead, a surge punctuated when Carmichael was fouled while converting a thunderous dunk.During the stretch, the Bears were held scoreless for five minutes. The lead later grew to 30 points at 66-36 after a dunk by Jon Ekey, as the Redbirds’ run extended to 20-2 over a seven-minute period.

Salukis beat N.Iowa on Senior Night

CARBONDALE—Desmar Jackson scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds, helping Southern Illinois to a 63-57 Senior Night victory over Northern Iowa on Wednesday.Jeff Early, who along with Kendal Brown-Surles and T.J. Lindsay was playing his final home game for the Salukis (13-16, 5-12 Missouri Valley), added 14 points and eight rebounds. The three seniors were honored in a pregame ceremony.Marc Sonnen scored 18 points for the Panthers (17-13, 10-7), and Jake Koch had 12. Northern Iowa outrebounded Southern Illinois 38-30 but committed 16 turnovers, which the Salukis turned into 17 points.SIU never trailed but saw UNI pull within 48-43 on Marvin Singleton’s 3-pointer with 4:43 left. The Salukis then made nine free throws in the final 2:50 to secure the victory.Northern Iowa likely will be the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, while Southern Illinois is locked in at No. 10.

Creighton ruans past Bradley, grabs share of first in the MVC

PEORIA—Doug McDermott had another big game at Carver Arena, scoring 32 points, and Creighton moved into a first-place tie in the Missouri Valley Conference with an 80-62 victory over Bradley on Wednesday night.The win, coupled with a Wichita State loss to Evansville, leaves the Bluejays (23-7, 12-5 Missouri Valley) and Shockers (24-6, 12-5) tied atop the conference standings. The two teams meet Saturday at Creighton in the regular-season finale.McDermott, who also had 11 rebounds Wednesday, has made himself at home on Bradley’s home court. As a freshman, he had a career-best 17 rebounds here, and last season he set a Carver Arena opponent record with 44 points in a 92-83 Creighton win.Walt Lemon Jr. led Bradley (16-14, 7-10) with 17 points and Will Egolf had 11.Creighton used a 31-6 run over a span of 8:52 to turn a 42-40 lead into a 73-46 advantage with 6:13 left.

Bulls get Hinrich back, Cavs miss Irving, and Cleveland still wins 101-98!

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Dion Waiters scored 25 points to help make up for the absence of Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped an 11-game losing streak against the slumping Bulls with a 101-98 victory on Tuesday night.While Irving rested a sore right knee in street clothes on the sideline, Waiters converted a fadeaway jumper and a layup before Tyler Zeller drove along the baseline for a layup that helped Cleveland open an 87-78 lead with 7:33 left in the game. The Bulls were down two when they got the ball back with 37.8 seconds left, but Luol Deng missed a long jumper and Shaun Livingston hit two free throws for Cleveland to make it 100-96. Luke Walton then forced a turnover to get the ball back for the Cavs.Livingston, starting in place of Irving, finished with 15 points as improving Cleveland held on for its third win in the last four games, bouncing back from a difficult 109-105 loss at Miami on Sunday.Carlos Boozer scored 27 points and Deng had 26 for the suddenly free-falling Bulls, who have dropped five of seven. Kirk Hinrich returned to the lineup after missing three consecutive games with a lingering right elbow infection and finished with 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.The Bulls played their first game of the season without reserve forward Taj Gibson, who sprained his left knee when he stepped on the foot of Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 102-72 loss to the Thunder. Gibson is expected to miss at least two weeks in another devastating injury.Of course,Derrick Rose has missed the entire season while he recovers from major left knee surgery, and Hinrich also has missed a bunch of games due to a myriad of injuries.Wayne Ellington had 13 points for the Cavaliers. Alonzo Gee finished with 11 points and Tristan Thompson added 10 points and eight rebounds.The Bulls and Cleveland handed the lead back and forth for much of the third quarter. Three consecutive charging calls on the Bulls helped the Cavaliers open a 72-67 advantage on Walton’s long jumper with two minutes left in the period, but Joakim Noah found Deng inside to help get the Bulls to within one.The Bulls had a chance to go in front in the final seconds of the third, but Marco Belinelli’s 3-point attempt was blocked by Livingston and Ellington hit a 3 as time expired to lift Cleveland to a 75-71 lead.
NOTES—Rose and Irving have never faced each other in an NBA game. “Well, I think we’re all looking forward to that,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “My greatest hope is that No. 1 that Derrick Rose comes back and he’s back to being the old Derrick Rose. If that happens and they get a chance to go against each other, I think that would be very interesting.” … Livingston was a prep star at Peoria Central H.S.. … The Bulls 115-86 win at Cleveland on Nov. 2 is the worst loss of the season for the Cavaliers.

UIC beats Wright State again, alltime series tied 23-23.

Daniel Barnes scored 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds Tuesday night, helping UIC sweep its season series against Wright State with a 60-55 victory.Barnes was 5 of 8 from the floor, including two 3-pointers. Hayden Humes added three 3s and 10 points for the Flames (16-13, 7-8 Horizon League), who won 55-49 at Wright State on Jan. 26.Freshman JT Yoho led the Raiders (18-11, 9-6) with 16 points off the bench, and Jerran Young scored 13.Wright State tied the game at 36 on Matt Vest’s layup with 12:45 to play, but that sparked a 12-2 run that put UIC back in front. The Raiders pulled within 58-55 on Yoho’s 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, but UIC’s Gary Talton hit two free throws to help secure the win.With the victory, the Flames evened the all-time series with Wright State at 23 wins apiece.

Detroit edges Ramblers at Buzzer 75-74

DETROIT—Jason Calliste’s layup as time expired gave Detroit a 76-75 victory over Loyola¬† on Tuesday night.Loyola had pulled ahead 75-74 on Jeff White’s layup with 9 seconds to play. After a timeout, Calliste made his game-winner to give Detroit seniors Nick Minnerath and Doug Anderson a victory in their final regular-season home game.Ray McCallum led the Titans (19-10, 11-4 Horizon League) with 22 points. Minnerath scored 21, and Anderson had 14.The Ramblers (14-15, 4-11) got 20 points from Jordan Hicks. Christian Thomas, who scored a career-high 31 points in Saturday’s loss to Kent State, had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Loyola shot 53 percent from the floor but committed 15 turnovers.The victory kept Detroit within a game of Horizon League leader Valparaiso, which beat Youngstown State later Tuesday. Both teams play their last regular-season conference game Saturday: Valpo at UW-Green Bay, Detroit at UIC.

Valpo beats Youngstown St, zeros in on Horizon League Title

VALPARAISO—Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk recorded double-doubles in their final regular-season home game, and Valparaiso clinched at least a share of the Horizon League regular-season title by beating Youngstown State 73-64 on Tuesday night.Broekhoff had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Crusaders (23-7, 12-3), and Van Wijk added 15 points and 14 boards. Valparaiso stayed a game ahead of Detroit, which beat Loyola of Chicago. Both teams play their last regular-season conference game Saturday: Valparaiso at UW-Green Bay,and Detroit at UIC.Blake Allen led the Penguins (16-13, 7-8) with 22 points, and DJ Cole had 15.Youngstown State led by as many as 13 early, but Valpo closed within 40-33 at halftime, then opened the second half on a 20-5 run, capped by two Broekhoff free throws, to lead 53-45 with 9:03 left. The Penguins couldn’t get closer than six points down the rest of the way.

EIU leads throughout and wins at cold shooting Chicago State 58-50

 

Malcolm Herron scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers, off the bench to help Eastern Illinois beat Chicago State 58-50 in a nonconference matchup Tuesday night.Alex Austin added 12 points and Josh Piper had 10 for the Panthers (10-20), and Sherman Blanford scored seven points and pulled down 12 rebounds.Nate Duhon led the Cougars (8-20) with 18 points but didn’t get much help. Duhon was 7 of 12 from the floor, and his teammates were a combined 9 of 40. Jeremy Robinson had 12 rebounds.Eastern led for most of the game but saw Chicago State pull within 48-46 on Duhon’s layup with 3:03 to play. But Austin made back-to-back layups and Herron added a jumper before an Austin dunk and two Taylor Jones free throws secured the victory.The Panthers now hold an 18-6 lead in the all-time series with the intrastate rival Cougars.