Demps scores 24 points in 98-59 rout of Rutgers
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) In most Big Ten games, the scoring doesn't come easy, but that hasn't been the case against Rutgers this season.
Tre Demps scored 24 points, 17 in the first half, and Alex Olah added 14 points and 10 rebounds, leading Northwestern to a 98-59 win over Rutgers on Saturday.
Northwestern came into the game loser of eight of its last nine games so hapless Rutgers was a bright spot on the schedule for the Wildcats.
''Certainly this was a feel-good day for us, something we needed,'' said Northwestern coach Chris Collins. ''Was really pleased with how our guys approached the start of the game. You come off a couple losses and you're at home and it's a game you have to win, our energy especially defensively was great.''
Northwestern was 17 of 28 from 3-point range.
Demps' game plan was to kick-start the offense early.
''Just wanted to be aggressive. Alex and I talked about for the rest of the season we want to try to set the tone. That doesn't mean scoring points, just trying to finish this thing out strong. I wanted to be aggressive offensively, wanted to be locked in on the defensive game plan and just happy that the shots went in,'' said Demps.
Jonathan Laurent scored 17 for Rutgers, which lost its 31st consecutive Big Ten game and 16th straight game overall.
''We can say all year that we've given great effort, tonight, we just didn't do it,'' said Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan.
Northwestern (18-11, 6-10 Big Ten) is on target to win 20 games for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
With two games left, Rutgers (6-23, 0-16) is on the verge of becoming the first Big Ten team to go winless in conference play since Northwestern went 0-16 in 1999-2000. Northwestern also went 0-18 in the Big Ten in 1990-91.
Bryant McIntosh had a career-high 13 assists and scored six points for Northwestern.
Demps and the Wildcats made quick work of the Scarlet Knights. Demps' 3 gave the Wildcats an early 19-4 lead and he extended it to 30-9 with another 3. He was 5 of 5 from 3-point range in the half.
Northwestern led 48-18 at half. Scottie Lindsey's dunk gave the Wildcats an 84-43 lead, their largest of the game.
''We didn't play hard, we didn't get out to shooters, we didn't play smart, we didn't carry out the game plan defensively against their pick-and-rolls, they got open, they got dunks, they got 3s. We just didn't play organize at either end of the floor,'' said Jordan. ''Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. That's what happens.''
Corey Sanders served the final game of a four-game suspension, making the Scarlet Knights huge underdogs again. Sanders is the team's leading scorer at 18.4 points per game.
Jordan got some depth back on his frontline. Centers Greg Lewis and Ibrahima Diallo both played, but they provided little. The Wildcats outrebounded the Scarlet Knights 26-8 in the first half.
''They're hurt with some injuries. If you don't start the game right and you let them hit some shots and let them get some energy and then our guys get tight, you never know what's going to happen, and we didn't do that,'' Collins said.
Rutgers: Diallo returned after injuring his foot on Dec. 18. Lewis was back after missing one game with a foot injury. … Omari Grier finished with 11 points.
Northwestern: The Wildcats were 9 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half. … Northwestern leads the all-time series 6-1. … Aaron Falzon finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers.
McIntosh came close to the Northwestern single-game assists record Saturday. Current Northwestern assistant coach Pat Baldwin holds the record at 14, set in 1992.
''I had my eyes set on something and I didn't get it done,'' McIntosh said smiling. ''(Baldwin) told me he wanted me to break it, but I don't know. I came out pretty quick. I got to 13 and they gave me one possession, we throw an alley-oop dunk and I was out, so we'll have to go back to the film on that one.''
Rutgers: Hosts Michigan State on Wednesday.
Northwestern: Visits Penn State on Thursday.