UCLA men’s basketball listless on defense in first loss of season

UCLA’s Thomas Welsh (40) attempts to block a shot by Creighton’s Davion Mintz (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Hall of Fame Classic, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Before this season, it had been 13 years since the UCLA men’s basketball team gave up 100 points in a game. The No. 23 Bruins have now done it twice in three games after losing to Creighton 100-89 on Monday in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.

UCLA (3-1) had career highs from Aaron Holiday (25 points) and Prince Ali (18 points), but allowed the Bluejays (4-0) to shoot 54.8 percent from the field in the second half.

“We just couldn’t get stops,” UCLA coach Steve Alford told reporters. “We just couldn’t get any stops that mattered. Offensively we did a lot of good things. We had the inside-out going like we wanted. We just couldn’t get the stops and I thought that was the key.”

The Bruins, who also gave up 101 points to Central Arkansas in overtime last Wednesday, play Wisconsin in the third-place game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT (live stream on Watch ESPN).

Creighton, which was coming off an upset over then-No. 20 Northwestern, was led by Marcus Foster and Mitch Ballock, who had 23 and 22 points, respectively.

The Bruins struggled with foul trouble all night, further emphasizing their short bench in the wake of the indefinite suspensions of freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

Thomas Welsh picked up three fouls in the first half and played 27 minutes. He still recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds with two blocks as UCLA’s other big men, G.G. Goloman and Alex Olesinski picked up four and three fouls, respectively, and combined for just six rebounds and four points.