The stars were on display as the No. 7 Missouri Tigers traveled to Los Angeles to take on the UCLA Bruins on Friday night. Forty minutes were not enough to settle this one, and eventually, after a fast-paced, back-and-forth contest, the Bruins were able to protect their home floor and defeat Missouri 97-94 in overtime.
Bruins freshman Shabazz Muhammad and Mizzou point guard Phil Pressey came into the contest as the the best players on their respective teams, and they were the two best players on the floor Friday night.
Pressey electrified the Southern California crowd with 12 first-half assists as the two teams battled to a 47-47 halftime deadlock in what was 10-2 Missouri's first true away game of the season.
Pressey was driving into the lane with ease and pushing the basketball on the fast-break, finding open Tigers for dunks and open jumpers from the outside. Pressey finished the night with 19 assists. The point guard also pitched in 19 points of his own.
Muhammad did everything he could to match Pressey, pouring in a game-high 27 points. It was Muhammad's second straight 27-point effort, and the freshman looks like he is developing into the best diaper-dandy in the country
While Pressey and Muhammad were both stellar, it was Muhammad who made the plays down the stretch when it mattered most for the Bruins (10-3). Muhammad knocked down a pair of crucial three-pointers in overtime to help seal the victory for UCLA.
Meanwhile, Pressey struggled during the last five minutes of regulation. Pressey turned the ball over on three occasions during the crucial stretch and forced up two ill-advised three-point attempts.
Pressey's mistakes allowed UCLA to overcome a nine-point deficit to force the overtime frame.
Pressey and Muhammad may have been the story of this showdown at Pauley Pavilion, the overall offensive efficiency displayed by both teams throughout the night was impressive.
Defense was absent for most of the night as Mizzou shot 47.5 percent from the field while the Bruins splashed the net 50.6 percent of the time.
Mizzou missed a golden opportunity to score a solid road victory prior to SEC play but lost because of poor execution, poor free-throw shooting and, most notably, an inability to take care of the basketball. Center Alex Oriakhi, who noticeably played very little in the second half after picking up a technical foul in the first half, had four turnovers while Pressey had five total on the night.
Coach Frank Haith looks to still be figuring out his rotation on the fly and will need to get things sorted out prior to SEC play. He must also find somebody else to handle the ball in case Pressey has to sit down due to foul trouble or injury. The playmaker played all but one minute in the loss.
Meanwhile, UCLA has to be happy with a solid win over a top-ranked program. The Bruins' young players can only learn and grow from such a hard-fought victory, and they will likely make a lot of noise during Pac-12 play.
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