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Upstart DePaul snaps No. 8 Xavier’s 11-game win streak

Jan 18, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Xavier Musketeers forward Jerome Hunter (2) sails past DePaul Blue Demons guard Caleb Murphy (23) for a lay up in the first half at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Umoja Gibson scored 22 points and Javan Johnson had 16 as host DePaul edged No. 8 Xavier 73-72 on Wednesday night in Chicago to end the Musketeers’ 11-game winning streak.

The Blue Demons (9-10, 3-5 Big East) shot 42.6 percent overall and 45 percent from long range (9-for-20) to hand the Musketeers their first league loss of the season.

DePaul defeated a Top 10 team for just the second time in 40 tries since 2007. Da’Sean Nelson’s layup with 28 seconds to go put the Blue Demons ahead by the final margin.

A Jack Nunge desperation shot at the buzzer fell short for the Musketeers.

Xavier (15-4, 7-1) lost for the first time since Nov. 27 despite producing four scorers in double figures. Zach Freemantle (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Nunge (16 points, 13 rebounds) both notched double-doubles.

The Musketeers struggled to a 4-for-20 effort from 3-point range and had just 13 assists, more than eight below their nation-leading season average of 21.1 entering the game.

Adam Kunkel chipped in 14 points for Xavier while Jerome Hunter had 10.

DePaul weathered much of the second half without Johnson and Yor Anei, who had four and three fouls, respectively, before the first media timeout of the second half. A 7-0 Musketeers run tied the game at 64 with 5:32 to go, but Johnson put the hosts ahead again with a floater less than a minute later, setting up a see-saw finish.

Nelson scored 10 points for DePaul, and Eral Penn had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Xavier’s Souley Boum, who entered the game as the leading scorer in the Big East at 17.6 points per game, scored only four points on 1-for-12 shooting. Boum had a game-best six assists, one more than Gibson, who hit 5 of 10 from deep.

Xavier raced to a 13-5 lead after three-plus minutes, but DePaul settled down, relying on effective ball movement and efficient shooting after a shaky start.

The Blue Demons shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, including 8-for-13 from deep, to take a 45-40 lead into the break. Gibson (17 points) and Johnson (14) sparked DePaul on 11-for-18 combined shooting.

–Field Level Media