UCLA loses third straight after comeback falls short

UCLA coach Steve Alford, right, watches from the bench as his team falls behind Oregon during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

Steve Alford covered his face with both hands. The sight of UCLA’s third loss was almost too much to bear before the head coach wiped both hands down to his sides in frustration.

Alford watched his UCLA team whittle an 18-point lead down to one three times in the final 69 seconds against Oregon on Saturday to only walk out of Matthew Knight Arena with a third straight loss as the Ducks survived at the free throw line to win 94-91.

Junior guard Aaron Holiday played only 10 minutes in the first half after he picked up three fouls, one which came after referees assessed double technicals to Holiday and Oregon’s Elijah Brown. Without their leader, the Bruins (13-7, 4-4 Pac-12) gave up 52 points in the first half, the most for a half allowed by UCLA this season.

UCLA had nine first-half turnovers, five from freshman Jaylen Hands, while Oregon (13-7, 3-4 Pac-12) had none.

Back-to-back Oregon 3-pointers pushed the lead to 18 with 15:29 to go, but the Bruins slowly chipped away. They made nine straight field goals. Holiday’s layup in traffic cut the deficit to one with 1:09 left.

The teams traded turns at the free-throw line, and while Oregon didn’t get a single field goal in the final 3:34, it scored its final eight points on free throws.

Holiday had 14 points, five assists and four turnovers in 30 minutes. Freshman guard Kris Wilkes led the Bruins with 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half and senior center Thomas Welsh had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

With its third consecutive loss, UCLA tumbled to fifth place in the Pac-12. The Bruins return to Pauley Pavilion searching for a streak-busting win against Cal on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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  • jim

    I go back to last year. If they could not get any further last year with the players they had, than the sweet 16, they’ll never get any further.

    • Richard

      We were placed in the toughest bracket ever and could u really expect us to beat UK twice in one season?
      I do agree it was a shame. ZO and Leaf were a great combo

      • 88 Straight

        No D. Better D we get a better seed. We were talented enough to win the league. Coach Alford hasn’t had a decent defensive team at UCLA yet.

        • Richard

          True !
          Looks like we’re gonna get that 5 star, 7’ Center Moses Brown, c. #21 overall player.

          • 88 Straight

            Maybe out guards can learn how to pass him the ball by next season.

          • Richard

            There is no learning on this team. They couldn’t even feed big Tommy Welsh … and now it’s too late.
            He’s WAY outta sink
            Injury has shook his confidence

      • jim

        I think Alford is a good coach. He’s never convinced me that he’s a great coach. The guy from Oregon is a much better coach than Alford.

        • Richard

          AGREED !
          As I said below, for what it is worth, looks like we’re picking up a 7′ 5 star center, Moses Brown.
          I don’t think this team follows CSA advice / instructions very well.

          • Jim

            I would guess that the reason Alford covered his face was because he’d probably spent all of the previous time out scheming to not allow Pritchard to receive the inbound pass, and, we did absolutely nothing to keep that from happening.

          • Richard

            These dunderheads simply do not take to coaching.

        • Paul

          He’s a good coach…like Mora.

          • jim

            I agree. Mora was a good coach. Not a great coach.

  • UCLA Dynasty

    Can we finally discuss who the next coach will be? We finally invested in football. It’s time to not be cheap in basketball.

    • Jethro G Sabbath

      Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • UCLA Dynasty

    Miles Jack!

  • Paul

    So now we know. If Alford has more than one NBA first round draft pick playing for him. . .Sweet 16 is the limit. Having “only” 3 former McD All-Americans + Aaron Holiday isn’t enough.