NU drops opener to Mizzou in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS--JerShon Cobb scored 22 points but Northwestern fell victim to a strong second half by Missouri as the Wildcats fell 78-67 Thursday night at Orleans Arena in the 2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Nathan Taphorn added a career-best 11 points for NU. Tre Demps contributed 11 points for the 'Cats as well. Jordan Clarkson paced Missouri with 21 points.
The Wildcats got off to a good start, making four of their first five field goal attempts in taking a 9-7 lead at the first media timeout.
A Demps 3-pointer off an offensive rebound made NU's lead 13-11, but Missouri rattled off 10 straight points to go up by seven as the 'Cats made just one of nine field goal attempt following their hot start.
However, the Wildcats battled back behind the play of Cobb. A 3-pointer and two free throws by the redshirt junior trimmed the deficit to two. Following a basket by the Tigers, Taphorn connected on his first of two triples in the stanza to get NU within one.
Missouri pushed the lead back up to five, but Cobb assisted on a Sanjay Lumpkin layup and then hit another trey and two free throws before coming up with a blocked shot on the other end. Taphorn's second triple capped an 18-6 run that gave Northwestern a 33-25 advantage.
Cobb's jumper just prior to the first-half buzzer gave him 16 first-half points and the Wildcats a 39-34 lead at the break.
Missouri started the second half quickly, scoring the first 14 points of the half to surge in front by nine, 48-39, before Cobb finally connected on a jumper just under five minutes into the period.
Northwestern was within seven following a corner 3-pointer by Lumpkin, but seven straight by the Tigers pushed their lead to 14 with 9:28 to go. Taphorn's third triple of the game put him in double digits for the first time in his young career and Cobb hit two from the charity stripe to get the Wildcats within 66-57 with 8:16 left.
Two free throws by Lumpkin cut the deficit to eight, 68-60, with 6:45 remaining. However, five straight by Missouri pushed the Tigers' lead back up to 13 and NU was unable to recover.
The Wildcats played nearly all of the second half without leading scorer Drew Crawford, who suffered an injury during the opening period.
Northwestern returns to action at 10:30 p.m. Central time Friday as it takes on No. 19/21 UCLA.