The Missouri game tomorrow at 9:30 Pacific on CBS will be the best test yet for the Bruins. Missouri and UCLA share an 8-0 record and blowouts of their opponents in the Las Vegas Invitational. Instead of a match up, this preview will focus on the numbers of these undefeated teams.
UCLA is shooting better across the board: FG % UCLA 55 to Missouri's 50, 3FG% 43 to 35, FTt% 75 to 71. UCLA is out scoring Missouri 91 to 81. But the most impressive offensive difference may be that Missouri has only 92 assists to UCLA's 160. UCLA passes the ball while Missouri relies more on individual play. The Missouri coach has an answer to this:
On relatively low assist numbers (11.3 apg) despite shooting 50.4 percent and averaging 80.6 points ...
"I think that's if you're playing attack-mode basketball and you're getting fouled and getting to the line - I think if you look at our free-throw attempts - that may negate some of your assists. We're shooting a lot of free throws, and that means we're being aggressive, so our assist numbers may not be as high. I think that's the reason for that. I'm not alarmed at that. I want to keep our turnover numbers down per game.
Of course he is also impressed by UCLA's offense:
"They, too, very good offensively. Extremely good offensively. Kyle Anderson's probably the key in their offense, the way they run things, and he's such a tough matchup because he's tall, and he's got great instincts. He play with a high IQ. But they shoot the ball extremely well. His son (Bryce Alford), and Jordan Adams, the freshman (Zach LaVine), they all can really shoot the ball, and then you throw on top of that his size in the middle with the Wear twins (David and Travis) and (Tony) Parker. They've got a really, really good team. I think they're ranked top-15 (actually No. 18), and I would venture to believe they're a top-10 team the way they're playing right now."
Before UCLA fans dismiss the Wears after last games bagel, keep history in mind. Oh and don't forget another history moment of UCLA basketball involving Missouri.
Travis Wear, who finished with a career-high 22 points, added a jumper with 12 seconds remaining to close out the Bruins' first win over a top-10 nonconference opponent since 2007.
"I wanted to put it all together this game," he said. "Throughout the season so far, I haven't played particularly well. I tried to go out and bring energy."
Muhammad tied his career high with 27 points, David Wear scored 16, Jordan Adams had 12 and Larry Drew II added 12 assists for the Bruins (10-3). . . .
The game was another thrilling chapter in the teams' history. The Bruins beat the Tigers 75-74 in the second round of the 1995 NCAA tournament when Tyus Edney banked in the winning shot at the buzzer after a full-court dash with 4.8 seconds to play. UCLA went on to win its record 11th national championship. Edney is now the school's director of basketball operations.
It was not just Travis. David Wear was 7-7 from the field with 16 points as well against Missouri last year.
What about defense? Surprisingly not a lot of statistically difference on D. Both teams hold the opponents to 39% from the field and Missouri's opponents only get one rebound a game less.
Next issue is of course the time. 9:30 a.m. Pacific time for the Bruins. Sure that is a bit tough but on the other side Missouri had a Thursday night game before a Saturday morning game. Thus while UCLA has three full days to prepare, Missouri only has one. A Missouri beat writer discusses this in an article written after the Las Vegas Invitational.
UCLA always seems to have five players on the floor at all times who are scoring threats, and often, all five can step out to 15 feet and knock down jump shots, which makes it easy for the Bruins to spread defenses out. They pass the ball well and had 39 assists and only 23 turnovers in two games in Las Vegas.
. . . What I don't know about the Bruins is how well they're going to be able to defend the Tigers and also how ready they'll be to face Missouri at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
Actually it is hard for UCLA fans to know how UCLA will defend.
Ironically last year's game was the second highest scoring for the Bruins. So it seems likely this will be a high scoring affair against a good home team.
UCLA faces a formidable test playing at Missouri this Saturday. The Tigers have gone 141-21 (.870) at home since Mizzou Arena opened in 2004-05. In fact, the Tigers are 88-4 at home since 2008-09, amounting to an incredible .957 winning percentage. The Tigers have compiled 77 consecutive wins at home against non-conference foes since the end of the 2005-06 season. Missouri's last non-conference loss at home came against Sam Houston State in the 2005 Preseason NIT. Since then, the Tigers have gone nearly eight full seasons without a loss.
Other places will break down the players more. The real point is not match ups but will UCLA's offense continue to run at peak efficiency on the road? How does the defense fare against the most complete opponent yet?