CHICAGO (AP) — After a lackluster exhibition game by Krys Faber, DePaul coach Oliver Purnell regained confidence in his senior center.
Cleveland Melvin scored 17 points and Faber added 13 as DePaul defeated Texas-Pan American 91-72 in a season opener Friday night.
“Krys really played well this summer and in the preseason,” Purnell said. “He didn’t play well in that exhibition game (last weekend against Lewis), which is out of character from the way he’s been playing.
“I was happy to see him get off to a good start and not get into foul trouble, and maybe that’s the springboard for him to play the way he’s been playing all summer and all fall. It’s time. He’s a senior. It’s his time.”
Brandon Young finished with 12 points and seven assists for the Blue Demons, and Moses Morgan scored 16 points. Young also had seven assists and five rebounds.
Brandon Provost scored 16 and Jared Maree 14 for Texas-Pan American.
DePaul (1-0), playing a rare home game on campus, led the entire way after jumping to a 10-0 lead.
Morgan hit a 3-pointer and Young set up Faber for an easy dunk. Young put the crowd on its feet with a no-look mid-court alley-oop dunk to Melvin to give the Blue Demons a 36-17 edge. DePaul led 46-33 at the half.
Maree hit a 3-pointer to cut DePaul’s lead to 51-43 with 16:14 left. Jesus Delgado made a free throw and a breakaway layup to get Pan American (0-1) within 53-48. But DePaul answered with a 3-pointer from Melvin and a layup by Young to go back up by 10 with 12:20 left.
“I think one thing we feel like we have and we proved a little bit is we have a pretty resilient group,” said Texas-Pan American coach Ryan Marks.
“When you’re playing against a team that pressures you like DePaul and is physically superior, you really have to handle the ball, and you can’t allow them to capitalize too much off their defensive pressure. We gave up two runs which were obviously a substantial difference in the game.”
However, DePaul’s Melvin limped off the court after injuring his left foot in the final minute.
“I saw him in the locker room and he looked to be OK,” said Purnell.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau took in the game, and coveted 2013 recruit Jabari Parker sat in the front row behind the DePaul bench.
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