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Same old, same old for hapless DePaul
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/1/2009 12:02 AM

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The oddsmakers apparently saw DePaul's narrow loss to No. 10 Villanova on Wednesday and heard about the Demons' subsequent pair of strong practices.

Las Vegas made the Blue Demons a 11/2-point favorite over St. John's for Saturday's home finale - a bit of a surprise for a team with 14 consecutive losses.

To improve its odds further, DePaul earned some karma by letting injured guard Jabari Currie start on Senior Day.

The officials blew the whistle after the tip and allowed Currie, who'll undergo knee surgery on Tuesday, to leave the floor and receive one last round of applause.

Amazingly enough, all of these positive things led to a blowout.

By St. John's.

The Red Storm shot 70 percent in the opening 32 minutes and built a 30-point lead before settling for an 84-63 Big East victory on Hall of Fame Day at Allstate Arena.

As St. John's wrapped up its first road win in nearly 13 months, several fans stood and clapped while chanting "Fire Jerry! Fire Jerry!"

This came on the heels of repeated booing that echoed in the one-third-full gym.

"This is as disappointed as I've been in coaching," said DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright, who started at West Leyden High School in 1971.

"The reason I'm disappointed is I thought we had kind of found ourself. We had two good days leading into this game and I thought we were going to play great, I really did."

Freshman point guard Jeremiah Kelly canned a 3-pointer on DePaul's first possession to take a 3-2 lead.

By the time DePaul made its next basket, the Johnnies (14-15, 5-11) had 15 points and were off to the races.

The first half featured a handful of missed layups and an overaggressive Dar Tucker (24 points) attacking the basket almost every time he touched the ball.

The second half featured the Red Storm getting all sorts of open shots, whether in the half-court or running the break.

On the rare occasions the visitors missed, DePaul didn't box out and allowed second-chance points. This stretch summed up the day:

At the 12:27 mark, point guard Malik Boothe stole a Will Walker pass and went in for an easy layup. Nineteen seconds later, power forward Rob Thomas stole a Walker pass and made a layup while getting fouled.

Thomas missed his free throw, but nobody checked him and he grabbed the rebound and laid it in.

DePaul (8-21, 0-16) must win at either West Virginia and Georgetown to avoid becoming the first Big East team in 15 years to go winless.

Regardless of what happens, DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto reiterated that she sees the program going in the right direction under Wainwright.

"I think we're pretty committed to standing by what we said," Ponsetto said. "I have to evaluate Jerry on 20 different things - and winning and losing is one of those."