DePaul looks to improve to stay perfect vs. Western Illinois

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Tony Stubblefield has only been the coach at DePaul for three games, but there's hope he might be the guy who can lift this program from nearly 20 years of lethargy.

The Blue Demons are 3-0 after Thursday night's 73-70 win over Rutgers and appear to have a good chance to make it four straight Saturday night when they host Western Illinois (3-0) in Chicago.

David Jones scored 22 points and hit a pair of critical 3-pointers right after Javon Freeman-Liberty canned one to snap a 61-61 tie with just over three minutes left. Jones added two free throws with just over 25 seconds remaining to help seal the win.

Beating an NCAA Tournament team from last season is a big deal for DePaul. From the start of the 2005-06 season to the end of last season, its record was an unsightly 162-282. Its last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 2004.

Stubblefield knows nothing but NCAA tourney trips. A long-time assistant under Dana Altman at Oregon, he's been part of 10 NCAA trips in 11 years. He knows there was a time when the Blue Demons were relevant nationally, back in the days of Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings and legendary coach Ray Meyer.

"I'm very familiar with the tradition of success this program has achieved," Stubblefield said. "The challenge ahead is the most exciting part."

Meanwhile, Western Illinois is also off to a fast start. The Leathernecks routed NAIA foe Iowa Wesleyan 97-71 Tuesday night, placing five players in double figures and shooting 52.9 percent from the field.

Will Carius led the way with 16 points -- all in the first half. Two of Western Illinois' victories have come against non-Division I foes, but it did start the season with a 75-74 victory at Big Ten member Nebraska.

"We're still a young team as far as being together," coach Rob Jeter said. "It's only the third game of the year. Clearly we have a lot to get better at but the fact that we're 3-0 makes me optimistic."

--Field Level Media