November 28, 2014

UCLA's trip to the Bahamas has been fruitless so far, thanks in large part to poor shooting and an array of turnovers.

The No. 22 Bruins look to return to Los Angeles with some confidence by beating UAB in the seventh-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday night.

UCLA (4-2) entered the tournament unbeaten, averaging 95.3 points while shooting 49.4 percent, including 42.4 percent from 3-point range. The Bruins haven't come close to being that effective in the Caribbean, though, as they were upset 75-65 by Oklahoma in the opening round Wednesday before falling 78-56 against fifth-ranked North Carolina in the consolation round a day later.

Shooting has been a major culprit in those defeats - UCLA has connected on 38.1 percent of its field goals and made an abysmal 5 of 31 from beyond the arc. The Bruins have also committed 36 total turnovers in that span, four fewer than their total through the first four contests.

They were particularly poor against the Tar Heels, committing a season-high 23 compared to seven assists for their worst one-game ratio since 1996.

"Our guard play wasn't very good, our frontcourt wasn't very good," coach Steve Alford said. "And that's not a very good combination."

He may be alluding to the play of Bryce Alford - his son - who had a season-low 10 points with three assists while turning the ball over a career-high six times against UNC, matching his total over the previous four games.

The sophomore guard, though, leads UCLA with an average of 18.2 points, with fellow guard Norman Powell right behind him at 18.0.

Powell, though, has totaled 23 points in the past two games and - like Bryce Alford - had a career high in turnovers with five Thursday.

UAB (2-4) may empathize with UCLA's plight in the tournament after also losing twice. However, the Blazers entered this tournament as underdogs - falling 72-43 to No. 2 Wisconsin on Wednesday before battling 18th-ranked Florida deep into the second half before eventually absorbing a 56-47 defeat Thursday.

Coach Jerod Haase, though, came away encouraged from the most recent loss since UAB held the Gators to 34.0 percent from the field.

"It's a loss that hurts a lot," Haase said. "I think the guys gave a tremendous effort. Our big thing that we talked about from the end of (Wednesday's) game (against the Badgers) until (Thursday) was 'Play as hard as you possibly can' and I think our guys did that."

Robert Brown continues to be the Blazers' top scoring threat, averaging a team-high 11.3 points. The junior guard has totaled 28 during the tournament, including a season-high 16 against Wisconsin.

Forward Tosin Mehinti matched Brown's 12 points Thursday after he totaled seven over the three previous games.

UCLA has won both meetings with UAB, with the most recent coming on Nov. 29, 1997.

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