Mississippi Valley State head coach Andre Payne yells to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Evanston, Ill. ( AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
AP Photo
December 15, 2015

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Other than losing part of a tooth during the second half, everything went right Tuesday for Alex Olah.

Olah scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds to lead Northwestern to a 78-48 win over Mississippi Valley State. Bryant McIntosh added 14 and Tre Demps had 13 for the Wildcats, who have won six straight and received three votes in this week's Top 25 poll.

Northwestern improved to 9-1 for its best 10-game start since the 2011-12 season, when the Wildcats also started 9-1.

Olah scored 16 of his points in the first half while making all six of his attempts during the opening period. He scored 11 of the Wildcats' first 15 points, sending him to his second productive offensive game in the last three.

Against Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Dec. 5, Olah produced 21 points before scoring just nine against Chicago State on Sunday. He hit eight of 11 shots Tuesday in his second double-double of the season and 10th of his career, despite losing a tooth during the second half when he was hit while going up for a shot in the paint.

''Alex certainly was a story, and should have been, with the size,'' Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ''Unfortunately you won't see him (address the media), he looks like one of the Hanson brothers on `Slap Shot.' He's got half his front tooth missing.''

McIntosh, who also had eight assists, said Olah ''looks kind of funny right now.''

''We're just right now trying to make him smile every time we can in the locker room,'' McIntosh said. ''It's good fun.''

It was also a good performance for Northwestern.

The Wildcats took control in the first 20 minutes, and a two-handed dunk by Olah with 8:45 left in the half gave Northwestern a 26-15 lead and their first double-digit advantage. Northwestern led 37-27 at halftime and never trailed, holding MVSU to 20 of 69 from the floor.

''I thought overall our defense was really good, holding them to 29 percent shooting,'' Collins said.

Nathan Taphorn's basket with 7:17 left in the second half increased Northwestern's lead to 64-44.

Marcus Romain scored 14 and Isaac Williams added 11 for MVSU, which plays its first 14 games away from home. The Delta Devils (0-12) don't host a game until Jan. 4, when they face Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

''It's very hard, but it's still no excuse,'' MVSU coach Andre Payne said. ''Tonight, we fell offensively out there. They gave it all they had defensively, but you can't play defense the whole night.''

MVSU lost by a double-digit margin for the third straight time and the fifth time in six games in the tail end of their taxing trip.

''It's just new experience for a couple of our players and just the team overall,'' Romain said. ''We've got two more games and, to be honest, it's been real exhausting.''

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TIP-INS

Mississippi Valley State: The Delta Devils are one of two winless teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, along with 0-9 Prairie View A&M. . MVSU was playing its second Big Ten foe of the season, following a 97-51 loss on Nov. 14 at Nebraska.

Northwestern: The Wildcats improved to 6-1 all-time against MVSU. . Northwestern entered Tuesday's game leading the Big Ten with 10.4 3-pointers per game.

FAMILIAR FOES

MVSU visited Northwestern for the fifth straight season. Collins said MVSU reached out to Northwestern and loves to come to Chicago.

''A lot of times in the guarantee-type of things, teams are interested in coming here. You have interest in certain teams,'' Collins said. ''They're good guys. It's been a good trip for them. They like being in this area, and it's just worked out that way.''

A CLEAN SLATE

Despite its record, the Delta Devils are trying to stay positive. They're doing that because they know everything starts over in conference play next month.

''We've just got to get consistent. That's been our biggest problem,'' Payne said. ''Our record is not a true reflection of how we really can play.''

UP NEXT

Mississippi Valley State plays Thursday at North Texas.

Northwestern plays Saturday at DePaul.

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