Men’s Basketball: Cats see big lead vanish, hold on to beat Missouri


Sam Schumacher/The Daily Northwestern

Tre Demps yells out assignments as he walks back on defense. The senior guard played a team-high, 37 minutes, in the 5-point victory.

Cole Paxton, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

When it mattered most, Northwestern got the job done.

Despite nearly blowing a 20-point lead late in the second half, the Wildcats (4-1) made just enough plays to hold off Missouri (2-3), 67-62, in the consolation game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic Tuesday in Kansas City.

“We just had to hold on for dear life,” coach Chris Collins said.

After Missouri forward Kevin Puryear made a free throw to bring the Tigers within 3, 65-62, with 34 seconds left, senior guard Tre Demps and junior forward Sanjay Lumpkin each split a pair of free throws of their own to give the Cats their final margin of victory.

NU was forced to play much of the second half without sophomore point guard Bryant McIntosh, who fouled out with 4:26 remaining. The Cats’ final field goal came on a Demps jumper with 5:41 to play.

“I was really proud of having the composure, the poise on both ends to do what it takes to win,” Collins said. “It’s not going to be pretty all the time.”

At several points throughout the first half, NU looked as though it would run away with the game. A 22-5 run over a seven-minute span during the half gave the Cats a 19 point advantage, and a Lumpkin 3-pointer a few minutes later gave NU a 31-11 lead, its largest of the game.

The Cats led 38-24 at halftime, but Missouri started the second half far stronger. The Tigers cut the NU lead to eight with 12:46 to play, and the Cats’ last double-digit lead came with more than 10 minutes remaining.

“They made a lot of shots,” Lumpkin said. “They made their run.”

A 3-point play by Missouri guard Terrence Phillips cut NU’s lead to 60-55 with five and a half minutes to play. The Cats’ final 7 points all came on free throws from Lumpkin, Demps and senior center Alex Olah.

Demps carried the offensive load for NU in the second half, scoring 9 of his 13 points after the break while playing all 20 minutes. McIntosh matched Demps with 13 points, though the point guard was scoreless in the second period.

Collins mentioned several times after the game how impressed he was with his team’s resilience on Tuesday night. Coming off a late game Monday night against North Carolina, he said, it would have been very easy for the Cats not to show up.

“There was a lot of things going against us in this game, fatigue,” he said. “People don’t realize…not only the physical toll but the emotional toll it takes to play North Carolina for 40 minutes, the way they push the ball, their physicality.”

Collins and Lumpkin were both likewise impressed by NU’s growth. Lumpkin said the Cats’ effort was greater than it has been in years past, which helped NU sneak out a victory, and Collins agreed.

“Our guys dug down, and they showed the progress that we’re making. This game in the last couple years we would have lost, no question in my mind,” Collins said. “This is progress for our program to be able to come back today and win this game against Missouri.”

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