New night, same spark.
Tre Demps scored 13 of his 15 points down the stretch as Northwestern stunned Indiana in Bloomington, 54-47.
The win marked the Wildcats’ second stunner of the week. On Sunday, NU beat Illinois with the same defensive intensity. This one, on the road, was even more impressive.
With the score tied at 40, Demps responded with a pull-up triple, sneaky layup and midrange dagger to put the Wildcats back up by seven with just more than one minute remaining. That proved to be enough, with NU knocking down free throws to preserve the victory.
Drew Crawford bounced back from his slump, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Better, he and Jershon Cobb combined to haul in 21 rebounds — part of a sharp team rebounding effort.
Alex Olah also kept star frosh Noah Vonleh in check. NU’s sophomore center had a career game, with eight rebounds and six blocks.
The improvements didn’t end there. Kale Abrahamson – now firmly in the starting rotation – knocked down three triples and was part of the strong defensive effort.
Again, only six players saw significant action in the win. Despite the lack of depth, they’re muscling opponents and making the on-court product look good.
Indiana could not respond to the Wildcats’ physical defense. The Hoosiers shot 25 percent and made only four of 18 three-point attempts.
Two weeks ago, we thought Northwestern might not win a single Big Ten game, and reasonably so. The offense still tanks, and Dave Sobolewski’s absence leaves the team without a true point guard.
But the team is playing objectively great basketball — at least relative to expectations. Collins was criticized in recent weeks, but followed with two shocking wins in six days.
Suddenly streaking, Northwestern returns to action on Tuesday against Purdue at Welsh-Ryan Arena.