Earlier this month, Missouri outscored UCLA by 17 in the second half of a nine-point victory. In Thursday night’s 80-63 win at Madison Square Garden, No. 8 Duke did the same to the Bruins.
Now 11 games into their first season under coach Steve Alford, UCLA has rolled over subpar opponents while falling short late against big-name programs. The team is promising: it can put up points, and it can do so at the breakneck pace promised before the season. But it also lacks fortitude on defense and on the boards, and has yet to prove late-game resolve.
Much of the same was on display against the Blue Devils.
The Bruins (9-2) took control of the game’s rhythm toward the end of the first half, and entered the break tied at 37. They never truly rediscovered that groove. Following a 5-of-8 showing from beyond the arc through the first 20 minutes, they shot 3-of-15 the rest of the way.
The Blue Devils (9-2) had 41 rebounds to UCLA’s 35, and 21 assists to 12. Potential No. 1 pick Jabari Parker lit up Madison Square Garden with 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists — keying the Duke offense as he does on most nights.
UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson had 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in front of his hometown crowd, while leading scorer Jordan Adams had just 10 points. Freshman guard Zach LaVine had the worst game of his young career, finishing with seven points and missing five of his six 3-point attempts.