The Bruins’ early-season free-fall has reached a new low.
UCLA men’s basketball (7-6) suffered its fourth consecutive loss with a 73-58 home defeat to Liberty (11-4) on Saturday afternoon. The 15-point loss marked the largest home loss of coach Steve Alford’s UCLA career.
“I’ve been doing this a long time – 28 years. And you have setbacks, you have tough games,” Alford said. “This might be one of the most disappointing games I’ve had. Trying to reflect back throughout 28 years, and the word disappointment of just our team and how we performed. I don’t know the last time I was this disappointed in a team.”
UCLA failed to take care of the basketball throughout the night, turning it over 12 times in each half. The Flames converted the Bruins’ 24 turnovers into 32 points whereas the Bruins were only able to score seven points on Liberty’s eight turnovers.
During its current four-game losing skid, UCLA is averaging 16.5 turnovers per contest. Alford said that while he does not understand what is causing his team to be so careless with the ball as of late, he hinted that shake-ups in the rotation could be on the horizon.
“We’ve got some time to try to look at tape and figure things out before we start league play, but it’s been four games now,” Alford said. “So whether changes have to occur … I can almost promise you changes in the lineup, changes in minutes. I mean, those things have to happen, because now we’ve had four games. It’s not like it’s a one-game deal or a two-game deal.”
The Bruins had an otherwise strong start to the contest, shooting 46 percent from the floor and outrebounding the Flames by 11 in the opening 20 minutes. However, sophomore guard Chris Smith said he and the rest of his teammates were unable to recover from their self-inflicted wounds.
“We were off to a good start, we had the lead and everything,” Smith said. “I guess we just went downhill and lost focus, lost control, lost concentration and whenever we tried to get back into it, we only hurt ourselves. So I don’t think it was that, being flat, it was just bad.”
The Bruins now have to turn their attention to conference play. UCLA will host Stanford and California in their first two Pac-12 matchups of the season on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5, respectively.
When asked about how the Bruins will handle this adversity, redshirt freshman forward Cody Riley said the team will continue to study the areas in which it needs to improve.
“At the end of the day you just have to go back to the lab and try to figure it out,” Riley said. “We had way more turnovers than we should ever have and it was a lack of concentration, so we’ve got to get tougher and learn to focus more on the games in order to overcome this.”