LOS ANGELES – The No. 18/17 UCLA basketball team (8-0) looks for its ninth consecutive victory this Saturday when playing at Missouri. UCLA has gone 6-1 all-time against the Tigers (7-0), who will host West Virginia on Thursday evening. The Bruins most recently earned their eighth straight win, an 89-76 victory against UC Santa Barbara, on Tuesday evening in Pauley Pavilion.
Venue: Mizzou Arena (15,061)
Tip-off Time: 9:37 a.m. (PT)
TV Talent: Kevin Harlan, Greg Anthony
Radio: AM 570 (KLAC)
Radio Talent: Chris Roberts (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
UCLA has opened the season 8-0 for the first time since 2006-07, when the Bruins began that year 14-0. UCLA has averaged a Pac-12-leading 90.6 points per game, scoring an average of 98.8 points per game in the last four contests. Jordan Adams leads UCLA with 21.5 points per game, having scored at least 16 points in all eight games. Kyle Anderson has recorded four double-doubles (including one triple-double) in eight games. Anderson leads all Pac-12 players in assists (7.8), ranks fifth in rebounds (9.3) and is third in steals (1.9).
In his 23rd year as a collegiate head coach, Steve Alford has become UCLA’s first head coach to open his coaching career in Westwood with an 8-0 record. John Wooden won his first six games as the Bruins’ head coach in 1948-49. Since Coach Wooden retired following the 1974-75 NCAA Championship season, UCLA has opened its season with at least eight consecutive victories five previous times. The Bruins opened the 2006-07, 1993-94 and 1991-92 seasons with 14-0 records. The Bruins’ 1990-91 team began its regular season with an 8-0 mark. As head coach at New Mexico last season, Steve Alford guided the Lobos to a 12-0 start. Last year’s New Mexico squad did not suffer its first defeat until Dec. 22, 2012 against South Dakota State.
BRUINS VERSUS TIGERS
After playing two neutral-site contests in Las Vegas last week, UCLA returns to the road to face Missouri on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (PT). The Bruins have gone 6-1 in the all-time series against the Tigers, most recently securing a 97-94 overtime victory against Missouri in Pauley Pavilion last season (Dec. 28, 2012). Prior to last year’s game, UCLA and Missouri’s previous two meetings came in the 2002 and 1995 NCAA Tournaments. The 1995 contest, a second-round NCAA Tournament game, is best remembered for Tyus Edney’s 4.8-second game-winning layup at the buzzer.
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.
UCLA has scored at least 80 points in each of its last seven games (all victories). The last time UCLA scored at least 80 points in seven or more consecutive games was in 1998 (Jan. 17-Feb. 22) when the Bruins totaled at least 80 points in 11 straight games (7-4 during that stretch). The last time UCLA scored at least 80 points in seven or more straight wins was from Feb. 22-March 17, 1995 (Bruins scored at least 80 points in eight straight wins). UCLA’s streak of 80+ points in eight straight wins was disrupted by Missouri on March 19, 1995, when the Bruins edged the Tigers, 75-74, on a game-winning layup by Tyus Edney in the 1995 NCAA Tournament (game played at BSU Pavilion in Boise, Idaho).
Kyle Anderson registered the third triple-double on record in school history on Nov. 22, logging 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. That marked UCLA’s first triple-double since Dec. 18, 1995, when Toby Bailey had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Stephen F. Austin. Anderson clinched the triple-double with his 10th assist, a dish to Jordan Adams who knocked down a shot to finish with a career-high 30 points.
Since the assist became an official stat in 1983-84, UCLA has just three triple-doubles on record (including Kyle Anderson’s) – Toby Bailey’s on Dec. 18,1995 and a point-rebound-block triple-double by Jelani McCoy against Maryland (Dec. 9, 1995) with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 11 blocks versus the Terrapins.
BIG OFF THE BENCH
UCLA freshmen Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford have played instrumental roles off the bench. The Bruins’ reserve corps has accounted for 30.3 percent of its total scoring (220/725). LaVine ranks second on the team with 14.4 points per game, while Alford has scored 7.1points per game and averaged 3.3 assists per game. LaVine scored 21 points against Nevada on Nov. 28 and followed that with an 18-point effort versus Northwestern on Nov 29. Alford scored a season-high 18 points against Northwestern, connecting on 7 of 9 shots (4 for 4 from 3-point range).
Heading into Friday’s Pac-12 games, UCLA leads the conference in points per game (90.6), field goal percentage (55.3), three-point field goal percentage (43.0), assists per game (20.0), assist turnover ratio (1.9) and steals per game (11.0). Likewise, the Bruins rank second in scoring margin (21.8) and in free throw percentage (74.5). Jordan Adams ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring (21.5 ppg), Kyle Anderson is fifth in rebounding (9.3) and Tony Parker is fifth in field goal percentage (65.9 pct). Kyle Anderson ranks first in assists (7.8) and third in steals (1.9).
LAST YEAR’S GAME
Shabazz Muhammad hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime to help UCLA upset No. 7 Missouri, 97-94, when these two teams met last season (Dec. 28, 2012). Travis Wear scored 22 points, including a jump shot with 12 seconds remaining, to close out UCLA’s first win over a top-10 non-conference opponent since 2007. Muhammad finished with 27 points for UCLA, which overcame an 86-77 deficit at home in the game’s final five minutes. The Bruins used an 11-2 scoring run in the final four minutes to send the game to overtime.
Through games played on Sunday, Dec. 1, UCLA ranked sixth in the nation in points per game (90.9) and second in field goal perccentage (55.6), trailing Gonzaga’s 55.8 field goal percentage. The Bruins were also ranked No. 3 in assists per game (20.1), No. 4 in assist turnover ratio (1.86) and No. 8 in scoring margin (23.0). UCLA’s field goal percentage defense ranked No. 22, nationally (37.6 pct). Kyle Anderson ranked third in the country in assists per game (7.6), while classmate Jordan Adams was fifth in steals per game (3.29).
ON THE HORIZON
Following this Saturday’s game at Missouri, the Bruins will head into final exams before hosting Prairie View A&M in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 14. UCLA defeated Prairie View A&M, 95-53, at home last season. The Bruins will be back on an airplane the following week, flying to New York City where they will take on Duke at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Dec. 19. The contest against Duke will be nationally televised by ESPN. UCLA will close its non-conference schedule in the final two weeks of December at home versus Weber State (Dec. 22) and Alabama (Dec. 28).
Affectionately dubbed “instant offense” by classmate Kyle Anderson, sophomore Jordan Adams has scored in double figures in 33 of his 41 career games. Adams averaged 15.3 points per game last season and scored a career-high 30 points in UCLA’s win against Morehead State on Nov. 22, 2013. He has led UCLA in scoring 21 times (18 times by himself, three times tied with teammates) over the team’s last 43 games.
Freshman Noah Allen suffered multiple fractures to his face after a collision with one of Oakland’s players on Nov. 12. He underwent surgery on Nov. 14. A timetable for his return has not been determined. Freshman Wanaah Bail missed UCLA’s first five games of the season recovering from left knee surgery before making his collegiate debut in Las Vegas on Thursday, Nov. 28. Senior Travis Wear missed UCLA’s first three games (appendectomy on Oct. 28).
UCLA scored 105 points or more in consecutive games (Nov 24, Nov. 28) for the first time since Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, 1993. The Bruins had not reached the 100-point plateau in back-to-back contests since Nov. 27 and Dec. 1, 1999. Following UCLA’s 105-84 win against Nevada on Nov. 28, the Bruins came five points shy of the 100-point mark against Northwestern (95-79, Nov. 29). UCLA has not scored 100+ points in three straight games since opening the 1971-72 season with seven consecutive wins with 100 or more points (Dec. 3-29, 1971).