Northwestern is playing much better basketball of late, and the offensive emergence of Tre Demps has something to do with it.
Demps, the sophomore guard from San Antonio, is providing Chris Collins' Wildcats with instant offense off the bench, and Demps' infusion of scoring has featured large in the past three games: an upset win over Illinois, a hard-fought loss to a top-five Michigan State team and Saturday's road upset of Indiana. For a Northwestern team that looked destined for a last-place finish in the Big Ten, the performances have been remarkable, and Demps is a big reason why.
His biggest contribution came Saturday, when he scored 13 consecutive points over the game's final six and a half minutes to almost single-handedly provide the offensive output that won the game for the Cats. His 3-pointer at the 6:31 mark knotted the game at 38-38. By the time his shooting streak was finished, the Cats led 48-42. They went on to win, 54-47.
"Tre Demps was tremendous down the stretch," Collins said after the game. "We stuck with him. He had a couple of looks early in the game that he didn't knock down, and he carried us down the stretch."
Demps' clutch performance was made even more impressive considering he had totaled just two points prior to that game-tying 3-pointer. He finished with 15 points but missed as many shots as he made, shooting 6-for-12 on the day. But as Collins pointed out, the Cats stuck with Demps, and he led them to the team's biggest win of the season.
"If you get too many voices in your head about your shot, you got no chance," Collins said. "I equate it to guys who play golf. If you're thinking about eight million things during your swing, you have no chance to hit a good shot. A shot has got to be instinctive. You have got to trust your shot. Trust the work you put in. Get good shot preparation. Make sure you're on balance. Tre was getting good shots in the first half. I kept telling him, 'You're getting great shots, you're getting great shots.' We need Tre to score. We scored 54 for points today, we scored 40 some points the last few games. Points are hard to come by for us. We need Tre to be a double-figure scorer for us."