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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern 54, Indiana 47

Initial thoughts on Northwestern's stunning 54-47 win over Indiana.

1. MVP Tre Demps

After a pretty rough first half, Tre Demps essentially won the game for Northwestern down the stretch. He hit a three, then hit two straight jumpers — one coming off a Vonleh airball — to extend the lead to 47-40. It was perhaps the most important individual stretch we've seen from an NU player this season, and Demps is quickly turning into one of the Wildcats' best players, despite coming off the bench.

Much maligned for his inefficient shooting early in his career, Demps' progression has been pretty incredible to watch. He can create off the dribble and has a great step-back jumper to go along with his three-point shot. Also, special shoutout to Drew Crawford in the MVP race: He led NU with 17 points after disappearing against Michigan State and Illinois. credit to him for bouncing back and being able to score inside the paint.

2. Improved defense

A lot has been  made of Northwestern's improved defense in the past few games, and while some of it has been dismissed as bad shooting by the opponents, at some point it isn't a fluke. Sure, Illinois, Michigan State and Indiana haven't had their best shooting nights against Northwestern, but part of the reason for that is the Wildcats' defense. The Wildcats closed out well on threes and played better help defense than they have in the past to contest shots in the paint. Yes, the defensive performances against Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan were troubling, but the defense of late has been impressive.

The biggest factors are likely lineup changes and Alex Olah's improvement. It sounds harsh, but NU is a far better defensive team without Dave Sobolewski in the lineup. It will be interesting to see if NU can keep up this kind of defensive efficiency once he returns to the lineup. Olah, meanwhile, has gone from a defensive liability to a sound rim protector. He held his own against future lottery pick Noah Vonleh and had two tremendous blocks of the star freshman. Olah's development is the most important thing for NU this season. If he continues at this pace, the Wildcats will have themselves a formidable center next season.

3. Finding an offense

Northwestern's offense was bad again on Saturday. There's no debating that. At some point, the Wildcats have to figure something out. Players will have up and down games, but the trend remains the same: NU is astoundingly inefficient on the offensive end.

NU simply can't be successful passing the ball around the perimeter and waiting for an open three. Heck, no team can be successful doing that. Getting the ball inside to Olah will help — that has been brought up time and again — but there are other solutions. The Demps drive-and-kick and drive-and-shoot have been effective. Crawford has also been effective on the drive. Get those going and maybe the offense can be at least a little more effective.