Freshman guard Coby White scored 19 points as No. 7 North Carolina recovered from its first loss of the season by defeating No. 17 UCLA 94-78 in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The Tar Heels (6-1) turned up the defense in the second half and had enough offensive sources to keep UCLA off balance.
Luke Maye’s 16 points, Kenny Williams’ 15 points and Cameron Johnson’s 14 points bolstered the North Carolina offense. Freshman reserve Nassir Little had 14 points, helping spark the comeback.
Kris Wilkes pumped in 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including three 3-point baskets, from the field to pace UCLA (4-2). Jaylen Hands’ 14 points with nine assists and reserve Cody Riley’s 11 points with nine rebounds also helped the Bruins.
Little scored the first five points as part of the Tar Heels’ 11-0 run to burst to a 71-62 lead midway through the second half.
Later in the half, UCLA was thwarted in its effort to come back by scoring only two points during a four-minute stretch as North Carolina expanded its lead to 87-73.
White, who was coming off a 33-point outing a day earlier in a loss to Texas, scored 15 of his points in the first half of the UCLA game. He finished with four of North Carolina’s 11 baskets from 3-point range.
The Bruins put together a much better performance than in Thursday night’s 20-point loss to No. 11 Michigan State, but they were not able to sustain it long enough.
North Carolina committed only six turnovers, a vast improvement from the 17 a day earlier against Texas.
UCLA shot 51.9 percent in the first half on the way to a 46-41 lead.
North Carolina’s defense, which was torched at times by Texas, had trouble containing the Bruins, who shot 17 first-half free throws. The Bruins took only nine foul shots in the second half.
North Carolina played its second game in a row without reserve guard Seventh Woods, the team’s leader in assists who suffered a concussion earlier in the week during practice.
—Field Level Media