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UCLA becomes Missouri's latest tourney victim

Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert demonstrated what everyone in the West Region already suspected: Missouri is no ordinary 12th seed.

Gilbert had 17 of his 23 points in the second half, and Rush scored 20 to help the Tigers roar to their third upset of the tournament, beating eighth-seeded UCLA 82-73 Thursday night.

Arthur Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers (24-11), who advanced to face Oklahoma on Saturday in an all-Big 12 region final.

Missouri, ranked as high as No. 2 early in the season before slumping during conference play, hasn't been to the final eight since 1994.

"We drew on our adversity during the hard times," Snyder said. "We talked about it in the huddles. We talked about it on the court _ how we weren't going to let the adversity get in the way."

Matt Barnes scored 16 of his 23 in the second half for UCLA (21-12), which has reached the region semifinals in five of six seasons under coach Steve Lavin, but won there just once.

The Bruins led most of the game, but wilted under the second-half pressure of Missouri's remarkable outside shooting.

UCLA was ahead 57-54 with 10 minutes to play, but Rush and Gilbert _ who each hit four 3-pointers _ propelled a 19-6 run that put it away before the final minutes.

At the final buzzer, the Tigers embraced each other and Snyder, who has answered the critics of Missouri's late-season slide with a trip to the region final in his third season.

Rickey Paulding had 15 points for Missouri, and Johnson played a solid inside game against UCLA's Dan Gadzuric.

The Tigers were led by their high-scoring duo of Gilbert and Rush, who flourished under Snyder's instructions to shoot early and often. Missouri made more 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 and Barnes all finished their careers with another difficult tournament loss.

Jason Kapono, UCLA's leading scorer, managed seven points against a Missouri defense designed to stop him. Only Barnes, who scored nine straight for the Bruins early in the second half, appeared up to the challenge of a more physical Big 12 defense.

Led by Barnes, UCLA twice led by eight in the second half before Gilbert and Rush got going.

Rush's fourth 3-pointer of the half gave the Tigers a 63-59 lead with seven minutes left, and Gilbert capped the night with his fourth 3-pointer three minutes later, giving Missouri a 10-point lead.

Both teams were highly regarded early in the season _ UCLA got to No. 3 _ before faltering. But both got on track at the right time, with Missouri ripping through Miami and Ohio State last weekend, while UCLA upset top-seeded Cincinnati in double overtime.

In the teams' only previous tournament meeting, in 1995, UCLA won on Tyus Edney's length-of-the-floor drive for a buzzer-beating layup. The Bruins went on to their 11th national title, with Lavin watching from the sideline as Jim Harrick's assistant.

Missouri, which led for all but two minutes of its first two tournament games, trailed for most of the first half Thursday until Paulding's jumper gave the Tigers a 30-28 halftime lead.

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