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UCLA Basketball Gets Slaughtered on Turkey Day

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News Roundup of a blowout loss

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If you want an excellent summary of UCLA's 78-56 loss to North Carolina, read Zach Hefland's "UCLA pretty much does nothing right" article.  A few key paragraphs:

There was one, and probably only one, positive for UCLA fans after the Bruins were crushed, 78-56, by North Carolina on Thursday. It certainly wasn't when Bryce Alford turned the ball over three straight times, or when Kevon Looney dribbled off his foot or when Isaac Hamilton threw a routine pass into the stands.

Rather, with the game on the more obscure AXS TV, maybe some fortunate viewers out there couldn't find the channel.

UCLA will be back on AXS tonight for a Battle for Atlantis tournament played in a casino ballroom with blue lighting in the stands for a seventh place game against the only team in the tournament to have a losing record, University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB).  UAB is so bad that they have averaging 45 points a game in the tournament.  But enough on UAB, let's get back to UCLA.  How bad was the loss?

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.

UCLA took an 18-11 lead to open the game, but its reserves gave up an 18-0 edge to North Carolina to finish the half.

While tournament favorite Wisconsin has a headline on ESPN saying "Badgers Bench Comes Up Big" UCLA's bench was atrocious.

Another stat that summed up the game:

North Carolina had nine players score in the game's first 13 minutes. UCLA had four players score in the entire first half, seven for the game.

In addition to the lack of a bench, the backcourt was awful in this game.  As this North Carolina hack said:

It was a consolation game for the losers in the previous day. UCLA lost to Georgetown [sic Oklahoma] and now with two losses in the span of two days, they'll surely be out of the rankings next time they come out. They shot a terrible 1-of-14 from beyond the arc including a combined 0-for-9 effort from their backcourt, as Bryce Alford scored just 10 points and was still better than his partner, Isaac Hamilton, not getting a single point to his name.

However, I must disagree a bit with those who say our whole team was outplayed.  Our front court was actually okay.  Starting with the incredible Kevon Looney who has been the best player in every game he has been in, when he can stay on the floor (emphasis mine)

It didn't help that Looney picked up his fourth foul just seconds into the second half and was forced to sit. Looney has looked like a shoo-in for a double-double, but came four rebounds shy in 23 minutes. When Looney was on the floor, the Bruins actually outscored the Tar Heels.

The other positive is that Thomas Welsh looked good on offense in garbage time and the desperation move of turning to G.G. Goloman was not completely ugly:

UCLA received solid contributions off its bench from freshmen Thomas Welsh and G.G. Goloman, Welsh finished with six points, eight rebounds and one block in 14 minutes. Goloman, who did not play in UCLA's loss to Oklahoma on Wednesday, had two points, three rebounds and one steal in 10 minutes of action.

But really this game was so bad as to be embarrassing.  UCLA plays another bad team tonight for seventh place.  Can UCLA's bench (outside of Welsh) contribute?  Will its guards be able to take advantage of a mid-major or be too tired?  As Steve Alford said:

"It's a gut-check game for us," Alford said.