Missouri basketball may not have been in the limelight for very long on Saturday before the football team faces Auburn for the SEC Championship, but the basketball Tigers took care of business and had an impressive second half in their 80-71 win over No. 18 UCLA.
Both Missouri and UCLA were undefeated entering the game at 8-0 and, with the win, Missouri extended their home winning streak to 23 games, the longest streak in the country. The Tigers trailed 43-35 at the half, but Mizzou continued to fight on the glass (they won the rebound battle 47-30) and their offense started to knock down shots from the perimeter.
The firepower generated by guards Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross and Jordan Clarkson — all transfers — will be enough for Missouri to beat most teams this season, as the three of them can fill it up from anywhere on the floor. They compliment each other well and as long as the forwards continue to rebound — which they did against UCLA — then Missouri will be a tough out.
Although Ryan Rosburg was held scoreless and freshman Johnathan Williams III had only 10, the two combined for 22 rebounds, 15 for Williams, and defended pretty well on the interior.
It remains to be seen if Missouri could withstand foul trouble and how their young guards like Wes Clark or Shane Rector would really handle a lot of time, and they still need more depth in the post, the Missouri has a chance to be a dangerous team in the SEC.
For UCLA, they need to maintain their offensive approach of finding good and quick shots and although they have a lot of talent, it might help for Steve Alford to find a rotation of guys he likes and some lineups he trusts.
UCLA seemed to play a lot of different lineups throughout Saturday, and although sometimes coaches need to do that to inject life into a lineup or adapt to different things, it didn’t feel like UCLA was playing to its strengths and taking good shots after awhile.