UCLA has just one more chance to leave the Battle 4 Atlantis with a win.
The No. 22 Bruins opened the tournament in the Bahamas with double-digit losses to Oklahoma and No. 5 North Carolina, looking nothing like a team that should be ranked in the Associated Press poll. After a 78-56 dismantling at the hands of the Tar Heels, UCLA now falls the the seventh-place game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham, which tips off Friday at 7:30 p.m. PT on AXS TV.
The 22-point margin of victory was UNC’s largest against a ranked opponent since 2008. An even uglier milestone was marked by the Bruins’ own carelessness with the ball: they coughed up 23 turnovers against seven assists, the team’s worst single-game ratio since 1996.
UCLA took an 18-11 lead to open the game, but its reserves gave up an 18-0 edge to North Carolina to finish the half.
Only three Bruins scored in double figures: senior guard Norman Powell (15), sophomore point guard Bryce Alford (10), and freshman forward Kevon Looney (11). Alford entered the tournament averaging 9.75 assists per game, but has totaled just five since. He and Powell combined for 11 turnovers on Thursday.