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.
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 “UNC 89, UCLA 76: Steve Alford, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton” »