Bruins Fall To Missouri, 82-73, In West Regional
March 21, 2002
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert demonstrated whateveryone in the West Regional already suspected: Missouri is no ordinary 12thseed.
Gilbert scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half, and Rush scored 20points to help the Tigers roar to their third upset of the tournament, beatingeighth-seeded UCLA 82-73 Thursday night.
Arthur Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers (24-11), whoadvanced to face Oklahoma on Saturday in an all-Big 12 regional final. Thesecond-seeded Sooners beat Arizona 88-67.
Missouri, ranked as high as No. 2 early in the season before slumping duringconference play, go to the final eight for the first time since 1994.
Matt Barnes scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half for UCLA (21-12),which has reached the regional semifinals in five of six seasons under coachSteve Lavin, but won there just once.
The Bruins led much of the game, but wilted under the second-half pressureof Missouri's remarkable outside shooting.
UCLA was ahead 57-54 with 10 minutes to play, but Rush and Gilbert - whoeach hit four 3-pointers - propelled a 19-6 run that put it away before thefinal minutes.
At the final buzzer, the Tigers embraced each other and coach Quin Snyder,who has answered the critics of Missouri's late-season slide with a trip to theregional final in just his third season.
Rickey Paulding had 15 points for Missouri, while Johnson played a solidinside game against UCLA's Dan Gadzuric.
The Tigers were led by their high-scoring duo of Gilbert and Rush, whoflourished under Snyder's instructions to shoot early and often. Missouri mademore 3-pointers per game this season than all but five Division I teams.
Billy Knight had 16 points for UCLA in his final game. Knight, Gadzuric andBarnes all finished their careers with another difficult tourney loss.
Jason Kapono, UCLA's leading scorer, managed just seven points against aMissouri defense designed to stop him. Only Barnes, who scored nine straightpoints for the Bruins early in the second half, appeared up to the challenge offacing a more physical Big 12 defense.
Led by Barnes, UCLA twice was ahead by eight points in the second halfbefore Gilbert and Rush got going. Rush's fourth 3-pointer of the half gave theTigers a 63-59 lead with 7 minutes left, and Gilbert capped the night with hisfourth 3-pointer 3 minutes later, giving Missouri a 10-point lead.
Both teams were highly regarded early in the season - UCLA rose as high asNo. 3 in the rankings - before faltering. But both got on track at the righttime, with Missouri ripping through Miami and Ohio State last weekend, whileUCLA upset top-seeded Cincinnati in double overtime in the second round.
In the schools' only previous NCAA tournament meeting, in 1995, UCLA won onTyus Edney's length-of-the-floor drive for a buzzer-beating layup. The Bruinswent on to their 11th national title, with Lavin watching from the sidelines asJim Harrick's assistant.
The Missouri players claimed no interest in getting revenge for that loss,but the Tigers' fans in San Jose clearly appreciated the gesture.
Missouri, which led for all but 2 minutes of its first two tournament games,trailed for most of the first half Thursday until Paulding's jumper gave theTigers a 30-28 halftime lead.
UCLA shot just 31 percent before halftime, but Missouri made 10 turnovers.