TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Bryce Alford scored 16 points and Isaac Hamilton added 15 as UCLA dropped a 56-50 decision to Alabama before 13,472 at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday evening.
The Bruins (8-5) erased a 12-point deficit with a 10-0 scoring run less than three minutes into the second half and twice tied the contest in the game’s final three minutes.
Alabama (9-3) made six of its seven free throw attempts in the game’s final 49 seconds to close the game on a 6-0 scoring run.
UCLA shot 46 percent from the field in the second half, making 5 of 12 three-pointers, after having opened the game shooting just 18 percent, making 5 of 28 shots.
''It's been a bad trend,'' UCLA head 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 are going to have to figure that out going into league play.''
Ricky Tarrant scored 18 of his game-leading 24 points in the first half to lead the Crimson Tide, who handed UCLA its third consecutive loss. Alabama’s Levi Randolph, who entered the game as the Crimson Tide’s leading scorer, finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Randolph nailed 5 of 6 free throws in the final 33 seconds to help Alabama seal the non-conference win.
Hamilton helped UCLA rally from a 29-17 deficit after halftime. The sophomore guard made consecutive three-point shots before the 17:50 mark in the second half, cutting Alabama’s cushion to 29-25 before sinking a pair of free throws at the 17:13 mark.
Alabama pushed its margin back to eight points – 40-32 – with 12:21 to play before the Bruins received a jump shot from Tony Parker (12:00), a three-pointer from Alford (10:47) and a steal and dunk from Kevon Looney (9:40) to reduce Alabama’s margin to 40-39.
The Bruins tied the game at 48-48 on Hamilton’s three-point shot with 2:17 to play. Alford drove toward the basket and fired a pass to him in the right corner.
Randolph answered for the Crimson Tied with a jump shot before each team swapped turnovers.
Hamilton tied the game again with a put-back for the Bruins before Tarrant hit one of two free throws with 50 seconds left, putting the Crimson Tide ahead 51-50.
Alford missed a three-point shot from the top of the key before Randolph made two free throws, handing Alabama a 53-50 cushion. Alford attempted another three-point shot from nearly the same spot and the Bruins were forced to send Randolph back to the free throw 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.''
UCLA returns to action at Colorado (7-5) on Thursday, Jan. 2, opening its Pac-12 schedule. Game time at Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo., is set for 7 p.m. (PT)/8 p.m. (MT).