for this game

Burns scores 20 as DePaul upsets Villanova

Jan 4, 2008 - 7:09 AM By Rory Spears PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- It took five tries, but DePaul finally figured out how to beat a ranked team.

Draelon Burns scored 20 points and the Blue Demons shot 9-of-19 from beyond the arc en route to an 84-76 win over 16th-ranked Villanova on Thursday in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.

Karron Clarke added 12 points and six players finished in double figures for DePaul (5-7, 1-0 Big East), which has won three straight games for the first time this season.

"This win means a lot for us," Burns said. "Our season got off to a rough start. Now we have some confidence as we go forward in conference play."

Villanova (10-2, 0-1), which had not lost since a 69-68 setback at North Carolina State on November 25, was looking for its seventh straight victory but could not find any rhythm from long range, finishing just 6-of-26 on its 3-point attempts.

"We hit some threes, but not until it was too late," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "Give DePaul credit, they played us man defense, and they hadn't been doing that earlier this year."

DePaul opened the game with a 12-4 run over the first 5:19, with Burns chipping in four points during the spurt. After the Blue Demons stretched the lead to 18-8 on a 3-pointer by Cliff Clinkscales, the Wildcats started to claw their way back into the game.

Villanova closed within 24-20 after two free throws by Antonio Pena with 5:12 left in the first half. But Will Walker nailed a pair of 3-pointers as the Blue Demons stretched their advantage to 40-28 at the break.

"Getting 12 points in just 17 minutes from a perimeter guy like Will was important," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "Will made his shots from the floor and the line. You can't ask for more than that."

The second half saw the tempo increase right from the start, as Villanova climbed within 42-36 after Reggie Redding converted a three-point play with 18:18 remaining.

DePaul refused to fold, increasing the lead to 56-40 when Walker buried a 3-pointer with 11 minutes to play.

"This was not going to be Vanderbilt again," Burns said, referring to DePaul's late fold in December against the Commodores. "We are a new team since then, and this is a fresh start for us."

Trailing by 12 with seven minutes remaining, the Wildcats went on a 12-4 run to cut the deficit to 68-64 with 3:20 left. But the Blue Demons connected on 12-of-14 free-throw attempts down the stretch to hang on.

"We executed when we had to," Clarke said. "The main thing was hitting our free throws down the stretch."

Villanova, which came back from a 21-point deficit to stun Louisiana State on December 7, was paced by Corey Fisher's 23 points.

"We are going to learn from this game," Fischer said. "They played well, but we know every game in this conference is going to be a battle."

DePaul played with a short bench as forward Dar Tucker (sprained ankle) was limited to three minutes and guard Jabari Currie missed the game with a possible pinched nerve in his neck, which he suffered in practice on Wednesday.

"We hope to have both players for our game Saturday night against Providence," Wainwright said.