Wildcats seek upset of 19th-ranked Bruins

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Updated: 11/29/2013 11:17 am

Las Vegas, NV (SportsNetwork.com) - The 19th-ranked UCLA Bruins put their unblemished record on the line against the Northwestern Wildcats, as the Las Vegas Invitational soldiers on at Orleans Arena.

Northwestern had been riding a hot streak prior to this event, as it won three straight over Illinois-Chicago (93-58), IUPUI (63-61) and Gardner-Webb (72-59). The Wildcats' run came to an end on Thursday night against Missouri, however, as they dropped a 78-67 decision to fall to 4-3.

On the other hand, UCLA has lived up to its billing as one of the nation's best teams, as it has won all six of its contests this season. After the Bruins' first five victories came during their season-opening homestand, they traveled west to Vegas for this event and made easy work of Nevada on Thanksgiving night, 105-84.

UCLA leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 3-1, although the last meeting took place in 1969.

The Wildcats appeared in good shape on Thursday night, as they held a five- point lead over Missouri at intermission, but they got cold from the field in the second half (.364) on their way to the double-digit setback. JerShon Cobb had a career-best effort in spite of the loss, as he shot 6-of-11 from the floor (3-of-5 from 3-point range) for 22 points, to go with five rebounds and two steals. Tre Demps and Nathan Taphorn were both impressive off the bench with 11 points apiece.

On the season, Northwestern's scoring output hasn't exactly been stellar at 69.9 points per game, but it shoots a solid 45 percent from the field and holds its opponents to a mere 64.3 points at the other end of the floor. Drew Crawford (14.3 ppg) and Cobb (14.1 ppg) split the duties as the team's top scoring options, with Crawford collecting a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game as well. Dave Sobolewski (10.6 ppg) is an integral cog in the machine too, but he is off to a slow start (.377).

UCLA defeated Nevada on Thursday behind an outstanding offensive performance, as it shot just shy of 61 percent from the floor and made 10 3-pointers in scoring 100 points for the second consecutive game, marking the first time it has accomplished that feat since 1999. Zach LaVine provided a spark off the bench with 21 points, while Jordan Adams also scored 21 points (shooting 10- of-10 from foul line) and swiped six steals at the opposite end of the court. Kyle Anderson stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Norman Powell and David Wear scored 14 and 10 points, respectively.

The Bruins' dominance this season has been put on display both offensively (90.2 ppg) and defensively (66.0 ppg), and their .544 field goal percentage is fifth-best in the nation. Adams (22.0 ppg) has been nearly automatic at the free-throw line (37-of-41) and is an elite perimeter defender with 3.8 steals per contest. LaVine (13.7 ppg) has made greater than 52 percent of his 3-point tries. Anderson (12.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 7.3 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.2 bpg) is one of best multi-talented forwards in the nation, and Powell (12.8 ppg) is also off to a strong start.

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