Battle of unbeatens pits Bruins against Tigers

11:37 AM, Dec 7, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of undefeated teams get together on Saturday afternoon, as the 18th-ranked UCLA Bruins pay a visit to the Missouri Tigers.

UCLA is 8-0 for the first time since 2006-07 when the team ran out to a 14-0 start. The Bruins, under the direction of first-year head coach Steve Alford, lead the Pac-12 Conference in scoring (90.6 ppg), and they have won seven games by double digits. UCLA took care of visiting UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, 89-76. This is the team's first true road game of the season, and it will also face stiff tests from Duke and Alabama prior to opening Pac-12 play at home against bitter rival USC on Jan. 5, 2014.

Missouri has won its first eight games as well, the squad posting six double- digit victories along the way. The Tigers, who have yet to play a true road game as well, are 5-0 at home, with their latest triumph coming in an 80-71 decision versus West Virginia on Thursday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Following this clash, Mizzou's remaining non-league ledger includes bouts with Illinois and NC State, before lifting the lid on SEC action at home versus Georgia on Jan. 8, 2014.

UCLA has won six of the previous seven meetings in the series with Missouri, the most recent of which being a wild 97-94 decision at home last year.

With a scoring average sitting north of 90 ppg, it's not surprising that UCLA has several guys putting up big numbers here in the early going. Jordan Adams leads the way with 21.5 ppg, while Zach LaVine (14.4 ppg), Kyle Anderson (14.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 7.8 apg) and Norman Powell (12.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) have all performed exceptionally well during Alford's first year at the helm. Each of the four is shooting better than 50 percent from the field, the team as a whole draining 55.3 percent of its total shots, which includes a 43.0 percent showing from 3-point range. Conversely, UCLA's opponents are hitting only 39.3 percent of their total shots, while also falling short on the glass (-6.6) and committing nearly 15 turnovers per outing. In the recent rout of UCSB, Adams scored 22 points, Anderson finished with a line of 21 points, nine assists and six assists, while LaVine added 15 points and Normal Powell 13 for the Bruins, who dropped 52.8 percent of their field goal attempts, which is what the Gauchos hit their shots at as well. Fortunately, UCLA forced 17 turnovers and scored 27 points at the foul line compared to only seven for the visitors.

Missouri has had very little trouble putting points on the board this season, lighting it up for 80.5 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .507 overall, .353 from beyond the arc, and .711 from the charity stripe. Defensively, the Tigers are yielding 65.9 ppg, with foes logging sub par shooting percentages of .394 overall and .282 from downtown. Mizzou has a commanding +10.4 rebounding margin, but is in the negative with regard to turnovers (-1.1). The team boasts its own 20-plus scorer, as Jordan Clarkson is hitting 53 percent of his total shots and 86.5 percent of his free throws in netting 20.1 ppg. Jabari Brown is hot on his heels with 19.1 ppg, and they combine for 9.4 rpg. Earnest Ross rounds out the double-digit scorers, but his 13.8 ppg comes as a result of a lackluster .408 field goal percentage, which includes a mere 29.4 percent showing from beyond the arc. Clarkson was his usual productive self in the recent win over West Virginia, as he scored 25 points, grabbed six boards and dished out four assists. Brown and Ross tallied 18 and 16 points, respectively, as the Tigers made good on 52.9 percent of their field goal attempts, while holding the Mountaineers to 41.5 percent.

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