ROSEMONT, Ill. — In the toughest game of the season to date, DePaul (3-1) played its best basketball. The Blue Demons hosted Pac-12 contender Stanford (4-2) on Sunday and upset the Cardinal 87-72.
“I’m very pleased with the way our team responded from the other night when I didn’t think we had a tremendous effort,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “You’re going to have upsets in college basketball almost every single day. The teams that bounce back from those things have a chance to move on and get better and have a good season.”
Junior Myke Henry paced the Blue Demons with a career-high 29 points. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 12-for-18 from the field
“He proves once again to be a tough cover,” Purnell said. “He’s inside, he’s outside, he can get to the offensive glass.”
Henry transferred to DePaul after two years at Illinois. He sat out last season per NCAA regulations but is starting to shake off the rust these last few games. In the prior game against Lehigh, Henry recorded his first career double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’m still trying to learn,” Henry said. “But as I learn I get better, I’ll get more comfortable in the offense.”
DePaul held a 41-30 lead at halftime but struggled in the opening minutes of the second half. The Blue Demons played with high energy in the first half after not having much enthusiasm against Lehigh, which pleased Purnell.
But Purnell was livid after lazy — or really nonexistent — transition defense on Stanford’s third possession of the second half. Stanford guard Chasson Randle stole the ball from Henry and only senior forward Jamee Crockett got back on defense.
Crockett contested Randle’s layup and actually forced a miss, although he got away with slapping Randle’s arm. But the four other Blue Demons remained back at halfcourt, so Randle was able to gather his own miss and go right back up for an easy two points.
“Playing hard is a skill, and it’s a skill we’ve got to develop further,” Purnell said. “I think in order for us to be a good team we have to play extremely hard. We saw a lot of that tonight.”
In addition making some hustle plays, Crockett scored 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. He had not scored that many points since January of his sophomore season in a loss to St. John’s.
“I was more aggressive this game, more patient. I wasn’t forcing a lot of shots,” Crockett said.
Several times in the second half, Stanford made a run to put some pressure on DePaul. But like the Blue Demons in their loss to Lehigh, the Cardinal could never get over the hump. The closest they got in the second half was 60-55 with 8:22 remaining.
“Now we’ve put a standard up,” Purnell said. “Let’s see if we can live up to that standard.”