Previewing UCLA

After a disappointing opening loss to Butler, North Carolina must regroup to face UCLA on Thursday. Tip-off at the Imperial Arena is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised by AXS.

North Carolina (3-1) vs. UCLA (4-1)
Paradise Island, Bahamas - Imperial Arena
Thursday, 7 p.m.
AXS TV (channel info) - Kenny Rice, Tom Walsh, Seth Davis

Quotables

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

"Carolina didn't think they were going to be in that bracket. We didn't think we were going to be in that bracket, but that's reality. That's what hits you and you have to deal with it." - Alford

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: UCLA enters Thursday’s contest with a 4-1 record. The Bruins posted four consecutive double-digit victories over Montana State, Coastal Carolina, Nicholls State and Long Beach State before falling to Oklahoma, 75-65, on Wednesday in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Bryce Alford led UCLA with 19 points in the loss to the Sooners.

Backcourt Strength: UCLA’s primary scorers reside at the guard positions with Bryce Alford and Norman Powell. Alford, son of UCLA head coach Steve Alford, leads the team with 19.8 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting (37.5 percent from 3). Powell, a senior out of San Diego, is averaging 18.6 points per game on 50 percent shooting. Powell leads the team from long range, knocking down 52.4 percent of his 3-pointers (11-of-21).

Frosh in the Middle: Freshman forward Kevin Looney posted his fourth consecutive double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds against Oklahoma. The McDonald’s All-American is averaging 15 points on 47.2 percent shooting to go along with 12.6 rebounds per game. Looney also leads the team in blocks with nine.

Balanced Scoring in Tight Rotation: All five Bruin starters are averaging 12.0 points or more per game, although that’s due in part to a short bench. Only the starting five averaging more than 15 minutes per game, while center Thomas Welsh (5.2ppg; 14.2 mpg), wing Noah Allen (3.6ppg; 15.0 mpg) and forward Wannah Bail (2.0 ppg; 12.4 mpg) are the only bench players averaging more than six minutes per game.

Three Options from 3: Alford, Powell and Isaac Hamilton have all made 10 or more 3-pointers on the season and are each shooting 37.5 percent or higher. As a team, UCLA ranks 45th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (39.2) and is averaging eight made 3-pointers per game.

Securing the Ball: UCLA ranks third nationally in assist-turnover ratio (1.68) largely due its ability to take care of the basketball. The Bruins’ plus-4.4 turnover margin ranks 10th nationally. UCLA committed 13 turnovers in its loss to Oklahoma as the Sooners grabbed a 13-0 edge in points off turnovers.

Last Meeting: The 15th-ranked Tar Heels defeated the Bruins, 80-70, in Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2000. Joseph Forte led UNC with 29 points and Jason Capel added 12 points and 10 rebounds. UNC led by 18 points in the second half before UCAL rallied to take a 62-60 lead with 5:55 remaining. The Tar Heels regained their footing and closed the game on an 18-8 run.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with UCLA, 6-3.

Projected Starters:
20 Bryce Alford (6-3, 180, So.) - 19.8 ppg, 8.2 apg
10 Isaac Hamilton (6-4, 185, So.) - 12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
4 Norman Powell (6-4, 215, Sr.) - 18.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg
5 Kevon Looney (6-9, 220, Fr.) - 15.0 ppg, 12.6 rpg
23 Tony Parker (6-9, 260, Jr.) - 12.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg

Top Reserves:
40 Thomas Welsh (7-0, 245, Fr.) - 5.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg
22 Noah Allen (6-6, 215, So.) - 3.6 ppg, 1.6 apg
1 Wanaah Bail (6-9, 215, So.) - 2.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg

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