Men’s basketball endures another blow as Buckeyes best them 80-66

Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands scored 13 points and recorded a team-high nine assists in UCLA men’s basketball’s 80-66 loss to No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday. (Liz Ketcham/Assistant Photo editor)

Jaylen Hands sped past his defender and toward an unblocked hoop, but his layup attempt spun off the rim.

The sophomore guard slammed both of his hands on the hardwood before running back on defense.

That show of frustration summed up UCLA men’s basketball’s (7-5) 80-66 loss to No. 15 Ohio State (11-1) on Saturday, capping a winless Midwest road trip for the Bruins.

In the first half, coach Steve Alford’s squad turned the ball over 12 times, leading to a three-point deficit at halftime despite outshooting its opponent 48.3 percent to 36.1 percent from the field.

UCLA’s defensive resurgence resulted from heavily relying on a 2-3 zone – Hands had four first-half steals as the Bruins repeatedly deflected passes into the middle of the defense.

The zone defense helped limit forward Kaleb Wesson – Ohio State’s leading scorer – to 5-of-11 shooting from the field for 15 points, but he also pulled down eight offensive rebounds in 29 minutes.

Instead of playing through Wesson in the post, the Buckeyes’ perimeter players attacked the paint to set up open looks for their teammates.

Ohio State started to solve the zone in the second half, shooting 48.4 percent thanks to numerous defensive miscommunications.

Ohio State guard C.J. Jackson dropped 20 of his 22 points in the second period. Guard Keyshawn Woods racked up 10 assists, including two near half-court lobs when the UCLA defense fell asleep and left a Buckeye player unguarded underneath the hoop.

While the Bruins only turned the ball over three times in the second half, they missed seven layups.

Sophomore guard Kris Wilkes led UCLA with 13 points at the half, but only managed one point in the first 17-plus minutes of the second half. Wilkes finished with 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting, including 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Center Moses Brown managed only nine points, two rebounds and two blocks, often matching up against Wesson on the block. After becoming the first freshman in school history to record double-doubles in each of his first three games, Brown has only registered one since.

Hands and redshirt freshman forward Cody Riley added 13 and 10 points each.

Looking Ahead

UCLA has one more nonconference game – a home tilt against Liberty University (10-4) on Dec. 29 – before conference play starts in January.

The Flames have lost to every high-major school on their schedule this season, and their leading scorer Scottie James averages 12.4 points per game.

As a result, the Bruins don’t have many games left on their schedule against highly ranked teams.

As of Saturday, No. 18 Arizona State is the only Pac-12 program ranked in the AP Top 25. The highest-ranked Pac-12 school according to was No. 42 Oregon, followed by No. 44 Arizona State, No. 49 Arizona, No. 52 Washington and No. 67 UCLA.

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