December 28, 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Ricky Tarrant was hot in the first half when nobody else was.

Tarrant outscored UCLA before halftime and finished with a season-high 24 points to lead Alabama to a 56-50 victory on Sunday night over the struggling Bruins. He had 18 points at the half, one more than UCLA.

''I thought Ricky did a great job of carrying us,'' Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant. ''In the first half we were getting good looks that weren't falling for us and Ricky was the one guy that was able to get the shots to fall.''

Levi Randolph hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 33 seconds to help the Crimson Tide (9-3) seal its third win in a row.

Bryce Alford led the Bruins (8-5) with 16 points but missed two 3-pointers over the final 38 seconds. It was their third straight loss.

Randolph finished with 15 points while both teams struggled from the field. Tarrant, a Tulane transfer, cooled off after a hot start.

''I was just making plays within the offense,'' he said. ''My teammates and coaches put me in great situations. It wasn't so much me doing anything special.''

Isaac Hamilton scored 15 and helped spark UCLA's second-half comeback with eight straight points to end a 10-0 opening run.

The Bruins had another poor first half, trailing 29-17 after managing just seven points before halftime in getting routed by No. 1 Kentucky eight days earlier.

''It's been a bad trend,'' UCLA coach Steve Alford said. ''Three out of the last four games, we have not started well, and we're trying to figure things out. For whatever reason, our first halves have been just brutal over the last couple of weeks.

''We're going to have to figure that out going into league play.''

The Bruins, who had trailed since the opening two minutes, finally caught up at 48-48 on Hamilton's 3-pointer with 2:17 left. Alford drove toward the basket and fired a pass to him in the right corner.

Randolph answered with a jumper and then the teams swapped turnovers.

Hamilton tied it again with a put-back for UCLA and Tarrant hit 1 of 2 free throws with 50 seconds left for a 51-50 edge.

Bryce Alford missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Randolph made two free throws with 33 seconds left to make it 53-50.

Bryce Alford tried another contested 3 from nearly the same spot and the Bruins were forced to send Randolph back to the line.

''With about 20 seconds to go I should have called a timeout,'' Steve Alford said. ''We had time to set because nothing was materializing. That was just a difficult shot.''

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TIP-INS

Alabama: The Bruins shot 16 of 52 (30.8 percent). Alabama wasn't much better, going 17 of 51 (33.3 percent). UCLA freshman Kevon Looney had six rebounds before fouling out, nearly five below his average.

UCLA: Norman Powell struggled for the second straight game, going 1 of 8 for three points. He made just 1 of 13 shots for two points against the Kentucky but still came into this game averaging 16.1 points.

SLOW STARTERS

UCLA went more than seven minutes without scoring after Powell opened with a quick dunk, making just one of its next 19 shots. The Bruins were 5 of 25 in the first half.

NO FREEBIES

Normally a strong free throw shooting team, the Tide was just 18 of 30 from the line. Randolph & Co. did close it out strong, and Tarrant made 8 of 10.

TURNOVER PRONE

UCLA committed 18 turnovers, a number of them unforced, and Hamilton had seven.

UP NEXT

UCLA opens Pac-12 play on Friday at Colorado.

Alabama hosts North Florida on Friday.

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