DePaul dominates Grambling in opener

CHICAGO -- Both coaches achieved their objectives in DePaul's 96-58 nonconference victory over Grambling State on Saturday.

Oliver Purnell was looking for -- and got -- a complete effort from the Blue Demons while Tigers coach Joseph Price was able to cement lessons he's been trying to teach in practice.

Forward Cleveland Melvin scored 17 points, including a perfect 5-for-5 on 3-point tries, to lead DePaul in the season opener for both teams at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Freshman center Tommy Hamilton IV added 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds while guard Durrell McDonald added 10 for the Blue Demons (1-0).

"We told them (it was) really important to start well, which we did, and then to sprint into the half, which we did," Purnell said. "It (was) really important for us to come out in the second half really engaged and ready, and I thought our guys finished well."

Guard A'Torri Shine scored a game-high 21 points while guard Remond Brown added 11 as the Tigers (0-1) dropped their 29th straight over two seasons.

Short-handed Grambling State had just nine players dressed and was without top returnee Terry Rose, a sophomore guard who was the SWAC freshman of the year in 2012-13 after averaging 14.1 points per game. Rose is academically ineligible until the Tigers' Dec. 14 game at Arizona State.

"The big difference in the game was the physicality," Price said. "I've been trying to prep them for that all week. I said, 'Listen guys, I played at Notre Dame and we used to go blow to blow with DePaul. It's a man's game.' "

"They're seeing that. Nothing's better than experience to show what you're trying to teach your kids."

The game was the first between the programs. DePaul is now 9-0 all-time against members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

The Blue Demons opened a 31-point lead at 75-41 on guard Brandon Young's layup with 8:30 to play and pushed the lead to 40 points in the final minute as all 14 players logged minutes and scored.

DePaul led 44-26 at halftime and its advantage never slipped under 21 points in the second half.

Hamilton had 11 first-half points and 10 rebound in his Blue Demon debut.

"He's lost weight -- more importantly, he's lost body fat," Purnell said. "He's a big, strong kid. He's carrying a load in there. But he does have pretty good feet, quickness and instinct in these games. He needs to go through some trials and tribulation, which is gonna happen, and find your way through that, play your way through."

The Tigers had one lead -- on Brown's layup 67 seconds into the game. The Blue Demons replied with 10 unanswered points and outscored the visitors 20-3 over the next six and a half minutes for a 20-5 advantage.

DePaul went 3-of-5 on 3-pointers in that run while Grambling was 2-of-10 (20 percent) from the field and 0-of-6 on 3-pointers.

The Tigers broke an 0-for-7 streak with Shine's baseline 3-pointer with seven minutes left in the half.

DePaul shot 34-of-72 (47.2 percent) from the field, hit 11-of-21 3-point tries (52.4 percent), and outrebounded Grambling State 53-37.

The Tigers turned the ball over 23 times, resulting in 20 Blue Demon points.

"That was one of our weaknesses last year: taking care of the ball," Price said. "We've been stressing that, but again, kids don't understand until you get at this level and you have guys pressing you full court. Just playing in this kind of game, it's going to gain their attention."

NOTES: The game at McGrath-Phillips Arena is DePaul's lone scheduled on-campus match. All other games will be played at suburban Allstate Arena, DePaul's home for 34 seasons. ... The Blue Demons are 85-7 all-time in the first home game of the season. They have won 26 of their last 27 home openers. ... The Blue Demons, 11-21 last season, were picked to finish 10th in the new Big East, which opens play in late December. ... Grambling State went 0-28 last season and 4-24 the previous season. The Tigers averaged 49.7 points per game on offense last year. ... Grambling State will play its second straight Big East foe on Tuesday when the Tigers travel to Marquette. DePaul hosts Southern Mississippi on Wednesday.