UCLA men’s basketball taken down by Tar Heels in turnover-ridden game
Freshman guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds against North Carolina on Saturday. Jaquez also led UCLA with nine first-half points, and he finished the game with 14. (Kanishka Mehra/Assistant Photo editor)
By Sam Connon
Dec. 21, 2019 2:45 p.m.
A back-and-forth affair in Las Vegas turned into a game of runs, and the Bruins wound up on the losing end.
UCLA men’s basketball (7-5) lost to North Carolina (7-5) 74-64 in the opening game of the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday. Neither team held a lead greater than four points for the first 15 minutes of the game, but a sudden 17-4 run by the Tar Heels to close the half gave them a 36-23 lead at the break.
On the other side of halftime, the Bruins opened things up with a 12-0 run and cut the deficit to one. During that run, UCLA did not commit a single turnover – something that couldn’t be said for the rest of the game.
The Bruins turned the ball over a season-high 22 times in the game, with 14 coming in the first half. UCLA hadn’t coughed it up 20 times since coach Mick Cronin got to Westwood.
The turnover bug returned after the Bruins’ game-saving run, but they managed to keep pace and were only outscored 11-8 over the next 6:15.
UNC went on an 18-6 run over a four-minute stretch to go up by 16, and while UCLA cut it to a 10-point game in the final minute and a half, that’s when the final comeback effort stopped.
And it was also when Cronin lost his cool.
Cronin had the Bruins running the full-court press and the Tar Heels got called for an offensive foul when redshirt sophomore forward Jalen Hill caught an elbow to the face. When the referees went to review the play for a possible flagrant foul on guard Jeremiah Francis, they switched the call and suddenly it was Hill who got tagged with a defensive foul.
When the refs explained the call to Cronin on the UCLA bench, he spiked his clipboard and got called for a technical foul as his players swarmed around their coach to hold him back.
Sophomore guard Jules Bernard led UCLA with 16 points in his return from injury, as he was the only Bruin to hit two 3-pointers. Freshman guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. led the Bruins in scoring in the first half, and he finished the game with 14 points in his second career double-double.
Four Bruins finished the game in double figures, but the team’s 19% mark from long range was its second lowest of the season.
UCLA will return to Westwood for its nonconference finale against Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 28.