LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — UCLA went into Maui with two embarrassing losses and added two more before heading home.
At least the Bruins are making some progress.
Struggling from the perimeter and unable to slow Michigan’s offense, UCLA left the Maui Invitational with its second loss in three days after the 15th-ranked Wolverines rolled to a 79-63 win Wednesday in the tournament’s third-place game.
“We’ll start to make a comeback and dig ourselves out of the 1-4 hole that we’re in right now,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
Michigan (5-1) played well at both ends to build a modest lead in the first half and ran away with it in the second. The Wolverines made 15 of 23 shots in the second half and hit 62 percent overall to bounce back from a tough loss to No. 6 Duke in the semifinals.
Zack Novak scored a career-high 22 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 and Jon Horford scored all 12 of his points in the first half for Michigan, which bookended its loss to the Blue Devils with two solid wins.
“It (the stage) doesn’t get any brighter than this time of the year and that’s big for us,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “You don’t know how people are going to do when all of a sudden, the teams and the coaches that you see on television every day, and all of a sudden, it’s you. I really liked what we saw from there.”
UCLA (1-4) is off to one of its worst starts in years.
Travis Wear had 16 points, Joshua Smith and Jerime Anderson 12 each and UCLA shot just 4 of 17 from 3-point range.
“It’s really obvious that we have a long way to go to be able to compete against the teams on our schedule that are left. It’s going to be a hard fight,” Howland said. “Our guys have to be willing to get to work. Nothing’s easy. We’re going to have to really, really fight hard to get it together in practice.”
The Wolverines and Bruins each followed encouraging wins with disappointing losses in Maui.
Michigan handled No. 8 Memphis’ pressure in the opener, playing with poise down the stretch in a 73-61 win.
The Wolverines struggled early against Duke in the semifinals to fall behind by 16 and tried to fight back by hitting 11 of 12 shots to get within five. Michigan couldn’t slow down Duke’s offensive show, though, allowing the Blue Devils to hit 11 3-pointers and shoot 56 percent in the seven-point loss.
The Bruins opened the season with two embarrassing losses and avoided another in the opener by turning a two-point halftime lead against Division II Chaminade into a 92-60 rout.
UCLA staggered at the start of its game against No. 14 Kansas in the semifinals and fought its way back in the second half before fading down the stretch in a 72-56 loss.
The Bruins got off to another slow start against Michigan, missing six of their first eight shots and turning it over four times in the first 8 minutes to fall behind by seven.
It only got marginally better for UCLA the rest of the half.
The Bruins struggled against Michigan’s patient offense, allowing the Wolverines to hit 14 of 24 shots.
UCLA also struggled shooting from the perimeter, hitting 4 of 11 from 3-point range to trail 38-31 at halftime.
“We are taking probably too many 3-point shots,” Howland said. “I don’t know how much that was forced by their defense, but we’re not shooting the ball well from 3. We’re going to have to be more patient offensively, and we’re going to have to pack things in better.”
Michigan didn’t give the Bruins much of a chance to try another comeback, dropping in 3-pointers, dunks and scoring on backdoor cuts to push the lead to double digits.
Hardaway made a highlight-reel play by going down the lane for a one-handed dunk — and had a scowl for the crowd on his way back. Then he hit a long 3-pointer that put the Wolverines up 63-47.
Michigan kept pushing, getting a layup from Hardaway on a nice rebound tip from Trey Burke, then a 3-pointer and a layup by Evan Smotrycz to go up 72-53 with 4 minutes left.
“We were getting good looks,” Novak said. “When we do that, we’re pretty good shooters and we’re going to knock them down.”
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