LAS VEGAS — The last time UCLA scored at least 100 points in at least three consecutive games was in December 1971, when the Bruins did it seven straight times to open the season. That team went 30-0, was coached by John Wooden and had Bill Walton as center.
This UCLA team might not approach such perfection and couldn’t quite hit triple digits for the third time in a row Friday night, but the Bruins did improve to 7-0 with a 95-79 victory over Northwestern in the final game of the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena.
But Coach Steve Alford did something Wooden never did. He became the first UCLA men’s basketball coach to begin his first season with seven straight wins.
UCLA and Missouri (7-0) both finished 4-0 in the event and were crowned co-champions. The Bruins play at Missouri next Saturday, which is why the two teams didn’t play here.
Jordan Adams and freshmen Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford each scored 18 for the Bruins. Kyle Anderson had 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists — just missing his second triple-double in eight days — and was named tournament most valuable player.
The Bruins shot 63.6% (35 for 55) from the field and a scorching 76.5% (13 for 17) from three-point range. Bryce Alford was four for four on three-point shots, LaVine four for five.
“We couldn’t do much more offensively in this event,” Steve Alford said. “We moved the ball well, we made a lot of shots, but we still have to get better defensively. We have a lot of maturity to gain on the defensive side.”
Alford and Northwestern Coach Chris Collins gave each other an unfriendly postgame handshake. Alford said, “I have great respect for Chris but he was upset that we were trying to get a dunk late in the game. I wished we would have pulled it out but Wanaah Bail hasn’t been in the game much and he just wanted to make a play.”
With 3 minutes 13 seconds to play and the Bruins up 90-65, UCLA fans began chanting, “Beat ‘SC.” That had to do with football, presumably.
As for basketball, Adams, the Bruins’ leading scorer this season, made six of eight shots Friday, two of three from three-point range.
“I was thinking about anything but winning,” Adams said. “Our offense keeps getting better. We need to have the same improvement on the defensive side and we will.”
The Bruins came out fast, as is becoming typical.
With the game barely four minutes old they led the Wildcats, 14-1, and the scoring came from everywhere. Junior guard Norman Powell had four points, David Wear had a dunk and a three-pointer, and Adams had a three and a layup.
The Wildcats would rally to within 25-19, and later to within . 34-27. Then Bryce Alford made a three, a 20-footer and another three-pointer to give the Bruins a 44-31 lead 3:40 before halftime.
Northwestern finished the half with a bit of spirit. JerShon Cobb made two three-pointers, the second one with 11 seconds left, and UCLA led, 51-38, at halftime.
When a three by Adams put the Bruins up 62-43 with 15:49 left, it was hard to imagine a way the Wildcats could come all the way back.