UCLA falls out of AP top 25 after loss to North Carolina

A week after debuting at No. 22, UCLA has dropped out of the AP poll following its 89-76 loss to North Carolina.

That Saturday game bumped the Tar Heels up to No. 7. Two of the Bruins’ four losses have come against current top-10 teams, with the other being No. 2 Kansas.

The only ranked Pac-12 teams are No. 8 Arizona and No. 24 Utah.

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UNC 89, UCLA 76: Steve Alford, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton

UCLA’s five-game winning streak ended on Saturday in an 89-76 loss to No. 11 North Carolina. The Bruins ran out an early lead in Brooklyn thanks to some hot 3-point shooting, but their turnover habit allowed the Tar Heels to tie the game before the break.

While beating Kentucky and Gonzaga still puts UCLA ahead of the curve in its nonconference schedule, its second half against UNC exposed some of its flaws. The No. 22 Bruins struggled to defend in transition, giving up a final tally of 14 fast-break points. And, with Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh both getting into foul trouble, 6-foot-10 forward Brice Johnson erupted for 27 points — making 11 shots in a row after missing his first attempt.

UCLA finished with only 11 assists against 17 turnovers, which led to 24 points for North Carolina.

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STEVE ALFORD: I’m really proud of our guys. We have had a really good stretch. We’ve shown growth and improvement. I thought we did that again in the first half of this game. We did a nice job in a lot of areas. We just had two glaring weakness today. That was turnovers, which we’ve done a really good job in the past two weeks of limiting turnovers. We had too many turnovers and we just couldn’t get stops in transition.

This is a really good basketball team. It’s got a lot of experience, a lot of seniors, depth, big. They’re just really good and really talented. I appreciate how our guys fought. We’ve shown growth in the past two and a half weeks. What this game proves is that there’s still a lot of growth to go. Hopefully, that’s the message our guys can get out of it.

We have one more non-league game. We take a little break. Then, we come back and have about eight days before we start a very difficult league. We’ve got the better part of two weeks to continue that growth. Hopefully, our guys see that.

Q. For Tony, what do you think the impact was of you getting the four fouls and not playing very much for quite a stretch there in the second half? Because it seemed like that was where they really attacked the basket.

TONY PARKER: It was huge. It was big. I let my teammates down. That was just — foul trouble cannot be a problem in this game, and it was. It really hurt us in the second half.

Q. How tough was it to stop when Brice Johnson was pulling, especially in the final 4:27, he had 11 shots? How was that?

PARKER: He runs well. When you’re in foul trouble, you tend to be less aggressive. Me and Tom just got to stay aggressive and keep our bodies moving. I think that’s where he got us. We stopped moving on a lot of plays and cross screens. We’ve got to stay active and keep moving because he’s a very active player. Continue reading

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Steve Alford previews UCLA’s trip to face No. 11 North Carolina

Steve Alford gave a few updates on No. 22 UCLA before the team left campus for a flight to New York City. The Bruins are slated to play No. 11 North Carolina on Saturday at 10 a.m. PT at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

» Center Thomas Welsh and reserve guard Prince Ali have a chance to return this weekend after sitting out Tuesday night’s win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Welsh, who was out with a stomach virus, looked better this morning and appears on track to suit up on Saturday. Ali, who suffered a bone bruise on his left knee against Gonzaga last weekend, remains day to day. Continue reading

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UCLA basketball finalizes 2015-16 nonconference schedule

UCLA men’s basketball released its upcoming nonconference schedule today, and the spot to mark in your calendar is Dec. 3.

That’s when the Bruins will host Kentucky, facing a team that dismantled them in an 83-44 blowout last December in Chicago — one that the Wildcats opened with a 24-0 run. UK will almost certainly enter Pauley Pavilion as the favorite, but this is also a team that lost seven players from its Final Four squad.

As has become customary under head coach Steve Alford — who is heading into his third season — UCLA has a loaded nonconference slate that also includes a visit to Gonzaga on Dec. 12, and a game against North Carolina on Dec. 19 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both teams beat the Bruins by double-digits last winter. The Bulldogs also ended UCLA’s season with a 74-62 win in the Sweet 16.

“I’ve maintained all along that we want to upgrade our program’s schedule in hopes of playing tough and exciting marquee games,” Alford said in a statement, “and I’d say we’ve moved even further in that direction this year. … This non-conference schedule figures to be one of the strongest in the nation, and I know our players can’t wait to take on this challenge.”

The Bruins could also play Kansas and Indiana in November’s Maui Invitational, a tournament that also includes St. John’s, UNLV and Wake Forest.

UCLA’s first competition will come in an exhibition game against Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 30, and it will officially open its season against Monmouth on Nov. 13.

See the full nonconference schedule below: Continue reading

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UCLA fighting for 7th place after big loss to No. 5 North Carolina

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. Continue reading

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