David Banks
December 27, 2014

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Tre Demps was able to join his father, New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, for a workout before Northwestern faced Northern Kentucky on Saturday.

Tre Demps didn't divulge what tips his dad shared, but the advice seemed to work.

Demps tied a career-high with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting as Northwestern beat Northern Kentucky 76-55.

Then the Father and son headed to the Pelicans' road game against the Chicago Bulls.

''He's running another organization, flies with the team, drives to Evanston to help me out just shows what kind of dad he is,'' Demps said. ''He means the world to me.''

Dell Demps played in the NBA from 1993-97.

Bryant McIntosh added 15 points and Scottie Lindsey had 12 for Northwestern (9-4) in its final non-conference game before beginning Big Ten action on Tuesday.

The Wildcats have won three straight and four of five.

Todd Johnson scored 14 points for Northern Kentucky (6-7). The Norse fell to 0-3 against Big Ten teams this season.

Northwestern outrebounded Northern Kentucky 42-24 and shot 44 percent from the field to the Norse's 40 percent.

''They're a high-major program,'' Northern Kentucky coach Dave Bezold said. ''Their bodies are bigger and stronger, and they're quicker than a lot of our guys.''

The Wildcats attacked the basket after Norse came out pressing their guards. Northwestern had a 36-22 scoring edge in the paint.

''We were unable to stop the penetration,'' Bezold added.

Northwestern extended its lead to 18 with 17:40 left after three-point plays by Sanjay Lumpkin and Demps, and a Lumpkin dunk. Northern Kentucky cut the lead to nine on Johnson's 3-pointer and free throw with 10:36 remaining. But Vic Law's jumper and Gavin Skelly's putback extended Northwestern's lead to 13 with 8:02 left.

Wildcats coach Chris Collins said his team is young but has improved.

''Our identity has to be a team that plays hard and competes every night, and if we do that, I feel confident we'll put ourselves in position to win some games,'' Collins said. ''We're going to have nights, and have had nights, we look really young and like we haven't played much basketball. But there are going to be stretches we look really good.''

In the first half, Northwestern went on a 16-2 run to turn a two-point deficit into a 36-24 halftime lead. Demps scored 10 points during the run, including a jumper that rattled in at the buzzer.

''We didn't get off to a good start. We were on our heels,'' Demps said. ''After a couple huddles, we realized we had to attack. That got us into a good rhythm.''

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TIP-INS

Northern Kentucky: The Norse transitioned from NCAA Division II in 2012-13. . Northern Kentucky also lost to No. 6 Wisconsin on Nov. 14 and to Nebraska on Nov. 16. . The Norse were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Sun by coaches and media.

Northwestern: Bryant McIntosh (New Castle, Indiana) and Persons (Kokomo, Indiana) played on the same Indiana All-Stars team in high school. ... The game concluded a five-game homestand for Northwestern.

INJURY UPDATES

Northwestern's JerShon Cobb has missed the last five games due to foot/leg injuries but practiced the last couple days, Collins said. Nathan Taphorn hurt a leg and played just seven minutes but was cleared to return, Collins said.

DEFENSE MATTERS

Lindsey scored 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting and helped limit Tayler Persons to five points on 1-for-6 shooting. Persons entered the game averaging a team-high 13.5 points.

''His energy and activity got us going,'' Collins said.

UP NEXT

Northern Kentucky: Visits Youngstown State on Wednesday.

Northwestern: Opens the Big Ten season at Rutgers on Tuesday.

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