Dec. 7, 2013
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COLUMBIA, Mo. - With an 80-71 win over No. 18 UCLA Saturday afternoon, Mizzou Men's Basketball moves to 9-0 on the season and extends their non-conference home winning streak to 79 games and their nation-best active home winning streak to 24 games. This is the Tigers' first victory over a ranked opponent during their non-conference home winning streak that has spanned almost eight seasons.
For the second time this season Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross each scored at least 20 points. The big three once again dominated the Tiger scoring, contributing 63 of the team's 80 points. Brown led the group with 22, Clarkson contributed 21 and Ross finished with 20. Ross, a native of Cary, N.C., had one of his most complete performances of the season. The senior battled for possession, disrupted the UCLA defense and was a crucial factor in the Tigers comeback, with 15 of his points coming in the second half.
The first 10 minutes of the game was an outright battle between the Tigers and Bruins. Both teams crashed the boards and battled hard in the paint. The Tigers played tough defense on the perimeter to start, forcing UCLA to take poor shots from deep, but lost some of their scoring momentum when UCLA switched to a zone defense. Jabari Brown hit two free throws with 6:05 remaining in the half to end a five-minute scoring drought for the Tigers.
From there, the Tigers went on a quick 11-0 run when they came within two points of the Bruins. However, the Tigers couldn't match the speed of the Bruin offense throughout the rest of the half and trailed 43-35 at the break.
The Tigers made an early 12-1 surge in the second half and took their first lead (51-50) since the 13-minute mark in the first half. Ross and Brown led the run by pounding back-to-back dunks, followed by Ross nailing back-to-back treys of his own. The teams continued to exchange points, fouls and turnovers until Mizzou took the lead for good with 10:43 to play when freshman Wes Clark cruised into the paint and hit a layup. Seconds later, Criswell came up with a huge block on UCLA scoring leader Jordan Adams and the Bruins never recovered.
As the clock wound down, the Bruins began to commit costly turnovers and fouls. The Tigers hit their necessary free throws, going 10-of-12 from the charity stripe in the final two minutes of play to close out the win.
Not only did the Tiger offense step up in the second half, but also the defense. Mizzou held the Bruins to a 26 percent field goal percentage in the second half, compared to the 50 percent UCLA shot in the first half. Johnathan Williams III was also a key contributor to the Mizzou win. The freshman made his presence known on the glass as he led both teams in rebounds with 15. He also secured his second career double by posting 10 points.
The Tigers return to action Sunday, Dec. 15, as they take on Western Michigan. The game is slated for a 6 p.m. start at Mizzou Arena. For more information on Mizzou Men's Basketball, follow mutigers.com and @MizzouHoops.