UCLA sure looks like a team prepared to run and gun with anybody in the Pac-12 this season. In the final non-conference game of the year, the Bruins played their best game to date, defeating the #7 Missouri Tigers in a 97-94 overtime thriller. Jordan Adams sank a contested lay-up with 12 seconds in regulation to send the game into overtime, and Shabazz Muhammad hit two big 3-pointers in overtime to lead the stunning upset.
There were numerous offensive heroes on the night for UCLA. Muhammad tied his career-high set just six days ago with 27 points to lead all players in the game. He also continued his recent trend of shooting lights out from the perimeter, making 3-6 from 3-point range, while also draining a bevy of mid-range jump shots. Most importantly, when the UCLA offense was stalling in overtime, Muhammad was the one to step up and lift the team out of its mini-slump. “Shabazz made some big shots,” Ben Howland said, “Give his teammates credit finding him when he’s open.”
Shabazz’s teammates did a lot more than just feed him the ball. Travis Wear poured in a career-high 22 points, while his brother David Wear contributed 16 as well. “I just wanted to be aggressive,” T. Wear said, “Going up against the 7th ranked team in the country, I knew I had to be a leader for my team.” Larry Drew II also had a nice performance, contributing 8 points and 10 assists.
UCLA was able to win despite a career-night from the pre-season SEC player of the year Phil Pressey, The miniature point guard poured in 19 points, to go along with a career-high 19 assists. At half-time, Pressey had already equaled his previous career-high for assists in a game with 12. “He’s great, that guy makes the rest of his players better,” Muhammad said, “He’s going to be a great player in the future as well.”
Near the end of the game, there was a tiny bit of controversy, as a hard Jordon Adams foul sent Pressey flying to the ground with 4 seconds remaining in the game. However, no technical foul was called, a decision Howland strongly agreed with. “I thought that was good salesmanship by a little man,” Howland said. “For a second, I thought we were playing in Europe.”
The Bruins and Tigers played a topsy-turvy first half, which involved a lot of offense and sporadic defense. Missouri led early 11-8, but UCLA responded with a 15-0 run over the next three minutes to open up a 23-11 lead. Missouri answered with a 10-2 run of their own, and the rest of the half was tightly contested, ending in a 47-47 score.
For UCLA, the win was the perfect send-off as the Bruins prepare for Pac-12 play. “We are right where we want to be to start Pac-12 play,” Muhammad said. Despite the tough schedule ahead, Ben Howland allowed himself to appreciate the importance of his team’s victory on Friday night, “Missouri is going to win a lot of ballgames, Howland said. “That makes this win especially important come (NCAA Tournament) time.
- Norman Powell tweaked his ankle, but was able to play the remainder of the game at what Howland determined was a 80% level
- Jordon Adams was forced to leave in overtime due to cramps
- The official attendance for the game was 11,854