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November 30, 2013

Rapid reaction: Cats get burned


It was a rough night for the Wildcats, who were absolutely torched by UCLA on Friday night. The Bruins shot 64 percent from the field on their way to a 95-79 victory.



Did you see that? Northwestern coach Chris Collins was furious after the game. Collins appeared to confront UCLA coach Steve Alford during the post-game handshake, possibly for running up the score a bit near the end of the contest. It didn't really change the outcome, however, as Northwestern simply didn't have enough fire power without Drew Crawford available.



Offensive player of the game: JerShon Cobb. Against UCLA, the junior reaffirmed his status as Northwestern's only reliable one-on-one scorer. With Crawford out due to back spasms, Cobb became the go-to guy, and he answered the call. His most impressive stretch was in the first minutes of the second half, when he scored nine consecutive points for the Wildcats without much help. Cobb finished with 22 points on 12 shots and was the team's MVP on the night.



Defensive player of the game: No one. After giving up 95 points, you'd have to make quite the argument for someone to fit this category. When the Wildcats played man-to-man, they gave up wide open threes off drive-and-kick action and uncontested layups via backdoor cuts. When they switched to a zone, the Bruins found the seams and exposed them. Yes, UCLA was simply on fire for much of the game, but it was still an uninspired defensive performance.



Turning point: Tipoff. UCLA jumped out to a 14-1 lead five minutes into the game, and the Wildcats could never fully recover. Alex Olah was forced to cover stretch-four David Wear, who was just too athletic and versatile for the sophomore to guard. Northwestern wants to increase the pace of play, but the speed that the Bruins brought early on was far too much for the Cats to handle.



Atmosphere: There wasn't much energy from the Las Vegas crowd, except for when the Bruins were lighting it up. There were far more empty seats than full ones in Orleans Arena, and it didn't appear to be a very exciting environment.



Super sub: Kale Abrahamson. Northwestern needed an offensive presence in Crawford's absence, and Abrahamson did his part. He knocked down three first-half three-pointers as NU tried to keep the game close, and he provided a spark that wasn't there while he sat on the bench. The sophomore finished with 19 points and also distributed the ball well for three assists. He's made his case to possibly snatch a starting spot from Nate Taphorn should Crawford's back spasms linger.




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