With multiple players sidelined for DePaul’s season opener against Loyola Maryland on Monday, Blue Demons forward Javan Johnson might have been more motivated to contribute.

After scoring a career-best 24 points to go with 10 rebounds, however, the graduate transfer credited the teammates with whom he shared the floor rather than dwell on the ones unable to play.

“I feel I kind of scored just within the flow of the game,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t really forcing too much.”

DePaul (1-0) will look to maintain that “in the moment” mindset Friday night when it hosts Western Illinois at Wintrust Arena in Chicago — whether returning starters Nick Ongenda (hand) and Philmon Gebrewhit (internal issue) are present or not.

Johnson, who played in just 10 games while at Iowa State last season due to injury, set the example against the Greyhounds from the outset.

“Javon played extremely well,” Blue Demons coach Tony Stubblefield said. “He’s a young man that’s worked hard. I really thought he was coming into his own last year when he had the injury. Obviously, he’s bounced back from that injury. He’s worked extremely hard. Had a really good summer. Has had a good fall and preseason for us. And just his versatility to play multiple positions, to guard multiple positions, he’s a good player.”

After edging Illinois State 71-68 on Monday and thumping Rockford 113-56 on Wednesday, Western Illinois (2-0) is eager to see the schedule stiffen with visits to DePaul and Central Florida in the next four days.

“We have back-to-back high major teams on the road,” Leathernecks coach Rob Jeter said. “That’s something that’s going to test us, something we need.”

Western Illinois shot a scorching 42-for-67 (62.7 percent) against Rockford, including a 15-for-29 effort from beyond the arc.

Trenton Massner has excelled to start the season, recording a triple-double against Illinois State before contributing 19 points, eight assists and four boards against Rockford. He swished three successive 3-pointers during one second-half sequence.

“He’s sharing the basketball and having fun,” Jeter said.

DePaul edged Western Illinois 84-80 in Chicago last November.

–Field Level Media