DePaul Basketball goes as Javon-Freeman Liberty Goes

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Javon Freeman-Liberty, Valparaiso transfer and Whitney Young graduate, is Mr. All-Everything for DePaul basketball. The nephew of Marcus Liberty, a member of the 1989 Flyin’ Illini and four year NBA veteran, he currently leads DePaul in all the major categories.

As he goes, so goes DePaul basketball, and that was clearly on display today in Loyola’s 68-64 road win at Wintrust Arena. The Ramblers, making their first trip to the South Loop, opened the game with a 13-0 blitz, as part of a 19-5 run.  DePaul didn’t even score until just before the under 16.

Freeman-Liberty didn’t score until just before two minutes left in the half, and when he did, the Blue Demons took their first lead in this the 57th edition of this intra-city match-up. When he came alive, so did the Blue Demons, who took their largest lead of the game, at six, into the break.

DePaul’s 37-31 lead over Loyola, at the break, turned into a 37-27 deficit in the second half, and DePaul basketball was denied their second 7-0 start in three seasons. (The 2019-20 campaign opened with nine straight victories).

When Dartmouth transfer Chris Knight slammed home a dunk that took the score from 63-61 to 65-61, with less than 30 seconds left, the deal was sealed.

Freeman-Liberty, who entered the game as the third leading scorer in the entire country, finished with a season low seven points, on just 2-9 shooting, 1-5 from three.

Loyola Coach Drew Valentine discussed how they were able to shut down JFL so well.

“We we went back and watched the tape from two years ago, but he’s just a different player, a different dude. He came in as the third leading scorer in the nation, but I have best defensive player in the country…big fan of him, looking forward to seeing him realize his potential, he has a high ceiling.”

Valentine added: “we probably played our c game and still won by four over a really tough team.”

That “best defensive player in the nation” Valentine referred to was Lucas Williamson, who said of the match-up: “it’s always fun playing against someone I went to high school with, and won a state championship with, the nation’s third leading scorer, it was fun.”

He added “tonight might be one of my favorite games of all-time, it felt like a march game with a lot of stake, it was a great atmosphere.”

DePaul basketball coach Tony Stubblefield pegged Freeman-Liberty to easily and quickly recover from his worst game of the young season.

“We can’t ask Javon to get 25 every night, night in and night out,” Stubblefield said. “And we know that’s not going to be the case. Other guys will need to step up. He has a high basketball IQ and he’ll bounce back.”

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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