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.
UCLA (9-1) vs. No. 8 Duke (8-2)
Location: Madison Square Garden, 4:33 p.m. PT TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Andy Katz) Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
1. This is UCLA’s shot to earn some more national respect before conference play. Ten games into the season, the Bruins look like a good team, not a great one, and a loss at Missouri was enough to drop them from No. 18 in the Associated Press poll to out of the rankings entirely. First-year head coach Steve Alford has said a few times this season that he wants to schedule tougher opponents in the future, and was responsible for getting Duke on the calendar with relatively late notice. Continue reading →