No. 22 UCLA fades in final minutes, falls to Oklahoma 75-65 in Battle 4 Atlantis

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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — This is what UCLA coach Steve Alford was worried about.

His team was playing its fifth game of the young season, not long removed from a 2,500-mile flight from Los Angeles to the Bahamas, and was showing signs of leg-weariness even before that plane took off.

Sure enough, UCLA seemed to run out of gas Wednesday.

Bahamas native Buddy Hield scored 24 points — including a personal 10-0 run in the second half to single-handedly erase a UCLA lead — and Oklahoma closed the game on a 26-8 run to beat the 22nd-ranked Bruins 75-65 in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

"It's what's being thrown at us," Alford said. "We've got to handle that and we're not a deep team yet. We've got a bench that's developing. And now you get North Carolina in less than 24 hours, or right at 24 hours, and they're very deep. So that's a challenge. But our guys are going to have to grow and mature through that."

Bryce Alford scored 19 points for UCLA (4-1). Kevon Looney finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, his fourth consecutive double-double for the Bruins.

UCLA was 9 for 21 from the foul line.

"We knew it was going to be a tough battle," Steve Alford said. "I liked the way our guys competed."

Hield's morning itinerary included a solo trip to the beach, where he grabbed a seat on the sand and peered out toward the shimmering blue water that surrounds his homeland.

Perfect start, perfect finish. He was still posing for celebratory pictures nearly an hour after the game ended.

"I was thinking about it for a long time," said Hield, was born in Freeport and lived there until moving to Kansas as a high school junior. "It's just special to come here and play in front of my family and friends. A great team win. I had to do my job. My teammates did their job."

Frank Booker added 11 points and Jordan Woodard had 10 for the Sooners (3-1), who shot 33 percent from the field.

UCLA used a 7-0 run to take a 57-49 lead midway through the second half, and the Bruins — who have scored at will at times in the early going this season — seemed poised to make it a runaway.

That's when the shots started to fall short, Hield went on his 10-0 run, foul trouble took its toll and the game turned.

"Credit to them, they picked up their intensity the last few minutes of the game and we struggled with that," Bryce Alford said. "We had a couple possessions in a row where we didn't run a whole lot, we didn't make shots and we didn't get enough stops."

Hield wasn't the only Bahamian in the game. UCLA forward Wanaah Bail is a native of Nassau, and finished with one point in nine minutes.

TIP-INS

Oklahoma: The Sooners faced UCLA for the first time since 1975, John Wooden's final season in Westwood. They were 0-3 in the all-time series before Wednesday. ... Oklahoma had more 3-pointers in the first half (five) than 2-pointers (four), and the Sooners went more than 10 minutes in the second half without a 2-pointer as well.

UCLA: The Bruins trailed for a total of 9:52 in their first four games, combined. They trailed for more than that in the first half Wednesday. ... UCLA had outscored opponents in all eight halves of the season until Wednesday, when they were outscored by five in each 20-minute period.

BRYCE'S TIME

UCLA guard Bryce Alford was a reserve for the Bruins last season, and now runs their offense. He's averaging 19.8 points and 8.2 assists so far; no other player in Division I is averaging that much in both categories.

SPANGLER'S BOARDS

Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler grabbed 10 rebounds, his third double-digit board game this season. He has 41 rebounds in the Sooners' first four games, while taking only 26 shots.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: Faces Butler in Thursday's semifinals.

UCLA: Faces No. 5 North Carolina in Thursday's consolation round.

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