EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) It was a shot that Tre Demps' dad had him practice every day growing up.
Demps scored 15 points, including a go-ahead jumper with 2.5 seconds left, to lead Northwestern to a 69-67 win over North Florida in the first round of the Cancun Challenge on Thursday night.
Demps hit a step-back jumper over Trent Mackey to close out an uncomfortably close game for the Wildcats.
''I got to give a lot credit to him (his father). We worked on that for years and years and years. After every workout we had, he gave me the ball and said 10 seconds on the clock and you're playing (an opponent). We work on it, I've probably been doing that since I was 9 years old,'' said Demps.
Northwestern (3-0) trailed 65-60 with 2:36 left, but rallied in the final minutes behind Demps. Freshman Bryant McIntosh hit a jumper then followed with a 3 to tie the game at 65 with 1:36 left. Demps' jumper gave Northwestern a 67-65 lead, but Dallas Moore tied it at 67 with a layup. Demps' jumper put the Wildcats up for good. Demarcus Daniels missed a desperation 30-footer for North Florida as time expired.
Moore finished with 18 points for North Florida (1-2) and Chris Davenport added 17.
McIntosh finished with 16 and Sanjay Lumpkin added 13 for the Wildcats.
It appeared the Wildcats were going to take control of the game early in the second half after Dave Sobolewski's 3 put them up 44-38, but the Ospreys answered with back-to-back 3s from Moore and Mackey to tie the game. Jalen Nesbitt made two free throws to extend North Florida's lead to 52-46 with 9:21 left.
Northwestern led 31-29 at the half with Lumpkin leading the Wildcats with 11 points. Davenport led North Florida with seven points and Moore added six. The Ospreys shot 52.4 percent in the half to hang around and took a 36-35 lead early in the second half on Davenport's three-point play.
North Florida: After a 16-16 record last season, the Ospreys figure to be more competitive because of Moore, who came into Thursday night's game averaging 21.5 points.
Northwestern: The Wildcats survived despite getting little production from 7-footer Alex Olah. He converted on just 1 of 6 shots.
Northwestern hosts Elon on Saturday.
North Florida plays at Northern Iowa on Saturday.
KNEW IT WAS COMING
North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said they saw Demps' step-back shot on film and were prepared for it. ''We showed our guys on film that exact shot that he always shoots, every time he goes left he pushes back and steps back and shoots it. Our guy was right there. That's a practice shot that he takes all the time,'' said Driscoll.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''There are certain guys when you around them they're just winners and they find a way. He reminds me a lot of Jon (Scheyer), just the way he is wired. They throws themselves in the game and they're just consumed with winning,'' Northwestern coach Chris Collins speaking about McIntosh.