LAS VEGAS—The way this one went, Northwestern might want to wait ANOTHER 44 years before facing UCLA again.Sharing the ball is paying dividends for thw No. 19 Bruins, who nearly scored 100 points for a third consecutive game as Jordan Adams, Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford scored 18 points apiece in a 95-79 win over Northwestern in the final round of the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday night.The Bruins (7-0) made 13 of 17 attempts from 3-point range to finish 4-0 in the round-robin tournament for a share of the crown with Missouri.Tournament MVP Kyle Anderson added 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as the Bruins shot 64 percent from the field (35 of 55).
”Guys were doing a great job sharing the ball,” coach Steve Alford said. ”We have to share the ball. We have a lot of room to improve. We’re a fun group to watch. We’re athletic and we like playing together. We’re a versatile group.”
Alford had to be proud of his freshman son, Bryce, who hit all four of his 3-point tries and set a career high for points.
”As we go, I feel a lot more comfortable,” Bryce Alford said. ”I’m settling into my role. I’m really starting to know the offense. My teammates got me really open shots today.”
Steve Alford became the first UCLA coach to win his first seven games. Hall of Famer John Wooden started his Bruins stint 6-1 in 1948-49.The Bruins made 76.5 percent of their 3-pointers, falling just short of the school record. They shot 76.9 percent (10 for 13) from long range at California on Jan. 21, 1990.JerShon Cobb led Northwestern (4-4) with 22 points.Northwestern’s leading scorer, Drew Crawford, did not play due to back spasms.Crawford is averaging 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds. He played only 12 minutes Thursday in a loss Missouri, scoring just two points.
”Crawford is day-to-day,” said NU coach Chris Collins, whose team finished 2-2 at the Invitational. ”We tried to get him some treatment, but it just didn’t happen. Our next game is Wednesday so we’ll see.”
Kale Abrahamson added 19 and Tre Demps 15 for the Wildcats, who went 2-2 in the Invitational.
”Take away an 18-point game scorer and play one of the best teams in the country and they shoot 13 of 17 from 3, it’s going to be really tough,” Collins said. ”When you play these games, it is a great indicator of where you are. My guys fought for 40 minutes and I’m proud of that. The way UCLA shot tonight, we could have easily quit.”
The first half was a scoring fest for the Bruins, who went 19 of 25 from the field – including 9 for 11 from beyond the arc. They jumped out to a 12-1 lead and never trailed.UCLA was up 51-32 with 2 minutes left in the first half and the Bruins had their largest lead of 25 with 4:56 left in the game.
”I think we have a lot of guys that can shoot the basketball and stretch defenses,” Steve Alford said. ”And because of our lineups, there a lot of things we can do and how we play.”
The Wildcats went 12 of 32 from 3-point range and 21 of 27 at the free throw line.The tournament’s championship format was changed to round-robin this year to accommodate the Tigers and Bruins, who have a game scheduled for Dec. 7 at Missouri and didn’t want to play twice this season.The last time UCLA scored 100 points three straight games was during the 1971-72 season from Dec. 3-29. That team won the national championship, going 30-0.It was the first time the Bruins and Wildcats met since 1969, when UCLA won 81-67 at Chicago Stadium. Lew Alcindor led the Bruins with 35 points and 16 rebounds.UCLA now leads the series 4-1.