EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Northwestern survived a pretty difficult challenge on Friday night.
They're getting an even tougher test Monday.
Bryant McIntosh scored a career-high 32 points, and Northwestern rallied to beat the Columbia Lions 83-80 in overtime on Friday night. Tre Demps' 3-pointer with 59 seconds left in overtime gave the Wildcats a 4-point lead after they had trailed by 12 during the second half.
Friday was Northwestern's third straight home game against teams outside the power conferences, but the Wildcats figure to get a much steeper challenge on Monday when they travel to Kansas City, Missouri to face top-ranked North Carolina in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. After that, they'll face either Missouri or Kansas State.
Coach Chris Collins, who previously worked as an assistant at North Carolina's arch-rival Duke, chuckled while saying Monday's game is ''going to be pretty challenging.''
''They're one of the best. They have been forever,'' Collins said. ''They have a great team, they have a veteran team.''
At least the Wildcats can go into that matchup with some momentum after beating Columbia.
Grant Mullins made two free throws for the Lions with 47 seconds left in overtime, and then McIntosh restored the Wildcats' 4-point lead with a long 2-pointer with 24 seconds to go. Mullins made two more free throws and Northwestern's Aaron Falzon split two, allowing Columbia a chance to send the game to double overtime, but the Lions couldn't get a final shot off.
Columbia (1-2) didn't make a basket during overtime.
''I think the biggest takeaway is we need to be better in late-game situations,'' Mullins said. ''We can't let our lead go like that.''
The Wildcats pulled to within 74-72 with 1:33 left in regulation on Gavin Skelly's dunk before McIntosh's jumper tied the game at 74. Columbia's Alex Rosenberg then missed a jumper with 11 seconds left, but Demps' potentially game-winning jumper was off to force overtime.
Demps chipped in with 22 for the Wildcats (3-0).
McIntosh compared the upcoming game to a Big Ten matchup.
''They play a lot like Michigan State in the fact that they push the ball so much,'' McIntosh said. ''It'll give us great preparation for being in the league, and our younger guys can get a look at what it's like in that game.''
Columbia (1-2) dropped its second straight against a power conference team. After beating Kean 107-62 to open the season, the Lions lost 81-71 on Monday at Kansas State and couldn't recover Friday despite leading for most of the night.
Mullins led the Lions with 22 and Rosenberg added 17. Columbia had four players score in double-figures but couldn't finish what would have been an important early win.
''We've got to get tougher to put one away on the road,'' Columbia coach Kyle Smith said. ''Kudos to Northwestern, they made big-time shots. Made all the plays. We didn't.''
Columbia: The Lions fell to 30-34 all-time against teams currently in the Big Ten.. Rosenberg's brother, Drew, is on the Northwestern soccer team.
Northwestern: The Wildcats are 3-0 for the second straight season and fifth time in last six years. . Northwestern took a 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Columbia.
Columbia hasn't beaten a team currently in the Big Ten since winning 85-75 at Rutgers on Dec. 2, 1976.
Northwestern's Alex Olah was called for a dead-ball technical foul with 8:25 left in the game. Mullins made both free throws to give Columbia a 7-point lead, and the Lions gained possession of the ball after the technical.
Columbia hosts Lehigh on Sunday.
Northwestern plays No. 1 North Carolina on Monday in Kansas City, Missouri.