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Northwestern outpaces Mississippi Valley State in 101-49 win

Whether Northwestern consistently can be the team that showed up to play Mississippi Valley State on Sunday is unclear. In fact, it’s unlikely.

But the Wildcats are striving for the fast pace with which they played in their 101-49 victory over the Delta Devils.

The win snapped Northwestern’s three-game losing streak. It was the first time the Wildcats scored 100 points since a 100-89 home victory against Wisconsin on March 6, 1993.

Northwestern still is developing. With five freshmen in the rotation, there will be some great nights and some off nights. And in a tough defensive conference such as the Big Ten, the Wildcats won’t be afforded as many opportunities to run.

“Part of it is how they [Mississippi Valley State] play,” coach Chris Collins said. “A lot of the teams we’re going to play in our league aren’t going to let us play that way. But I think what we need to do is run more opportunistically. We have the athletes that we can pass ahead.”

By pushing it up the floor against the Devils, Northwestern found itself with good shot opportunities. So it wasn’t a surprise that the Wildcats led 47-26 at halftime and shot 57.4 percent from the field for the game.

The athletes Collins referred to were on display. Northwestern dunked six times. Vic Law and Nate Taphorn dunked once and Gavin Skelly and Tre Demps twice. Demps’ second dunk came in traffic.

All five starters — Bryant McIntosh, Law, Sanjay Lumpkin, Alex Olah and Demps — are capable. Most of the Wildcats’ bench players play above the rim, as well.

“We came out here and played like we practiced this week,” Demps said. “It’s refreshing to get a win.

“It was a fresh start for me getting eight days, seven days off [from games]. Just kind of refreshing your mind, getting in the gym, getting back to basics. So I would credit it to that.”

Senior starter JerShon Cobb was out of the lineup with an injured right foot. He wore a walking boot on the bench. After the game, Collins said Cobb would be shut down in the hope of having him ready for the Big Ten season.

Demps, whom Collins prefers to use off the bench, started in Cobb’s place.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen