Sunday, January 26

Tale of two halves for men’s basketball as second half struggles cause loss to UNC

Sophomore guard Kris Wilkes scored a team-leading 22 points for UCLA men's basketball Friday in the consolation game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. He left the game with a left calf cramp, but returned to the floor in the final minute. (Michael Zshornack/Daily Bruin senior staff)

The Bruins saw another lead dwindle away and ended the Las Vegas Invitational without a win.

No. 17 UCLA men’s basketball (4-2) held a lead over No. 7 North Carolina (6-1) for almost 23 straight minutes, but the Tar Heels eventually came out on top, 94-78. After losing by 20 points to No. 11 Michigan State on Thanksgiving Day – a game in which UCLA did not hold a lead – the Bruins’ quick start and 11-point first half lead made it look like things had changed.

The Bruins’ 46-41 halftime lead was erased early in the second, but after three 3-pointers by sophomore guard Jaylen Hands, they were able to stay ahead 62-60.

Hands had just two points in the first half, but he picked up eight assists in the period, as well as 12 points in the second.

Sophomore guard Kris Wilkes – who led the Bruins with 22 points – left the game with 3 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game after landing on his left leg following a block. Wilkes was on the ground yelling after the play, grabbing his calf, but it was confirmed to be a cramp.

Wilkes was stretched out on the bench and re-entered the game in the final minute.

Freshman center Moses Brown notched a block and four points in the first 2:39 of the game, but picked up two early fouls and sat for the majority of the first half. Brown fouled out with 7:40 to play in the game and he finished with seven points and four rebounds in seven minutes on the court.

Redshirt junior guard Prince Ali scored eight points in the first frame, but was held scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting in the second. Redshirt freshman Cody Riley – the Bruins’ third-leading scorer in the game – scored just four points and grabbed two rebounds in the second half, totaling 11 points and nine rebounds in his third career game.

UCLA shot 51.9 percent from the field and 76.5 percent from the charity stripe in the first, but coach Steve Alford saw those marks drop to 37.5 and 33.3, respectively, in the second half.

UNC outscored UCLA in the paint by nine points and outassisted it by six. UCLA notched 15 assists, almost double the number of helpers it had against Michigan State on Thursday, but UNC assisted 21 of its 31 field goals.

After starting the season 4-0 against all non-Power Five opponents, UCLA has now dropped back-to-back games to ranked opponents this week.


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit
Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on for the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon also currently contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment. Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.