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March 1, 2009For both squads, this was a must-win.
DePaul was in search of its first conference victory this season, while playing in its last game at home.
St. John's, after dropping a game two days before, could not be the first conference team to lose to the Blue Demons (8-21, 0-16 BIG EAST).
The Johnnies (14-15, 5-11) had their best shooting performance this season against DePaul Saturday afternoon, defeating the Blue Demons 84-63 and notching its first Big East road win of 2008-09.
St. John's was led by sophomore guard Paris Horne's 17 points, which included 5-of-8 from the perimeter. Horne was one trey shy of matching his career-high six three-pointers, recorded in the loss to Marquette on Feb. 14. Sophomore swingman D.J. Kennedy netted 17 points and forward Sean Evans contributed 15 points.
The Johnnies also saw key contributions from the bench.
As forward Justin Burrell returned to the starting line-up, sophomore Rob Thomas added a spark off the bench. Thomas scored a career-high 14 points in 14 minutes.
St. John's pressured DePaul, forcing ill-advised shots and turnovers. At the same time, the Johnnies played such aggressive defense that they committed some cheap fouls. Midway through the second-half, three of the St.. John's starters had three fouls a piece. But, even though the Johnnies were in foul trouble, the young squad maintained composure and controllably guarded for the duration of the game.
St. John's held its largest lead at the 8:15 mark of the second stanza when the score was 75-45, after a 6-0 run.
DePaul attempted to alternate between the man-to-man press and the 2-3 zone to contain St. John's offensive momentum. But, the Johnnies used Kennedy's quick slashing ability and Horne's hot outside shooting to destroy the Blue Demons' chance of containing them.
St. John's was better with shot selection and execution, nailing 32-of 53 (60.4%) from the field, which included 7-of-13 (53.8%) from the arc.
DePaul's leading scorer sophomore forward Dar Tucker scored a game-high 24 points, while teammates junior guard Will Walker and sophomore center Mac Koshwal added 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Horne hit four of his five threes in the first half, including two sets of back-to-back treys. His fourth three-pointer brought the Johnnies up by as much as 11 points, 27-16, with 6:32 remaining in the half.
The Blue Demons were able to close the gap a bit with 2:15 before halftime, bringing the game within six, 30-24, the closest margin DePaul would see throughout the rest of the game.
The score was 38-27 at the break.
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