EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Tre Demps tied his career-high with 23 points and Northwestern shrugged off a sluggish start for a 77-35 rout of Chicago State on Sunday night.

Demps, who was 9 for 18 from the field (including 5 of 10 on 3-pointers), also scored 23 in three previous games, the last being in February against Indiana. Nathan Taphorn also had 11 points for Northwestern.

Devon Friend led Chicago State (3-8) with 12 points.

The Wildcats (8-1) have won five straight and are off to their best start since also winning eight of nine to start the 2010-11 season.

It was Northwestern's first game in eight days. The Wildcats hadn't played since an 81-56 win over SIU-Edwardsville on Dec. 5.

The long layoff was apparent early as Chicago State jumped out to a 5-0 lead and Northwestern didn't connect on its first field goal until four minutes and 32 seconds into the game.

The Wildcats, though, quickly gained control. After falling behind by five points early, they limited Chicago State to just 10 points the remainder of the first half. Northwestern led 31-15 at halftime paced by Demps' 13 points.

Chicago State scored the first basket of the second half to pull within 14, but the Wildcats scored the next 15 points to open up a 46-17 lead with just under 15 minutes left.

TIP INS

Chicago State: The Cougars beefed up their non-conference schedule this season by playing most of the major Illinois schools. Besides Northwestern, they have faced Illinois, Northern Illinois and DePaul. They've also played Valparaiso, which is near the state line in northwest Indiana.

Northwestern: Demps entered the game in 24th place on the Wildcats' all-time scoring list and moved all the way up to 21st place. Demps now has 1,160 points, passing Frank Ehmann (1,145), Brian Schwabe (1,150) and Andre Goode (1,155).

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Chicago State plays at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Northwestern hosts Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday.