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UCLA outlasts Alabama, picks up a much-needed non-conference win

Dec 29, 2013, 1:23 AM EDT

Alabama v UCLA Getty Images

Tony Parker led five Bruins in double figures with 16 points and five boards has UCLA avoided yet another second half collapse, holding on to beat Alabama 75-67 in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night.

Kyle Anderson once again stuffed the stat sheet for the Bruins, chipping in with 13 points, six boards, seven assists, two steals and a block.

The Bruins had developed a nasty habit of second half collapses against quality competition. They were run out of the gym in the final stanza against both Missouri and Duke. It looked like that might happen on Saturday as well, as the Crimson Tide used a 9-0 spurt early in the second half to take a 43-39 lead, but UCLA responded with 10 straight to take a lead they would never relinquish.

Trevor Releford had 34 points to lead Alabama after coming off the bench which included five straight that he scored with two minutes left to tie the game at 67. But Tony Parker hit two free throws with 56 seconds left to give UCLA the lead back, and Releford would only get a touch on one of the next three possessions as the Tide failed to score again.

I’m not convinced that UCLA is going to be good enough to compete for a Pac-12 title. They have as much talent, particularly on the perimeter, as any team in the country, but I’m not sold on their ability to defend dynamic ball-handlers. This is a team that has to play zone because their point guard is a 6-foot-9 forward nicknamed ‘Slo-Mo’. The other concern is interior play, but if Parker can find a way to continue to play the way he did tonight, the big bodies on the front lines of Arizona and Oregon before a little bit less of a concern.