It was going to take a near-perfect effort for Ohio State to upset second-ranked UCLA.
And while the Buckeyes played well Saturday in most areas, it wasn't enough. The Bruins had four players score in double figures on their way to an 86-73 win in the first game of the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas.
UCLA scored seven points in just 1 minute, 6 seconds at the beginning of the second half to extend its three-point halftime lead to 11 and the Bruins did not look back from there. Ohio State had it within seven at 78-71 with 2:15 to play, but a 3-pointer by Bryce Alford followed by an alley-oop dunk by Lonzo Ball put the game on ice for the Bruins.
Marc Loving led the way for Ohio State with a team-high 19 points. Jae'Sean Tate scored 15 and Keita Bates-Diop added 13 off the bench for the Buckeyes.
Ball finished with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists and UCLA also got 20 points each from Alford and Aaron Holiday. Isaac Hamilton scored 17 and TJ Leaf added 13.
The Buckeyes couldn't buy a basket from the outside as they finished just 5-for-24 from behind the 3-point line. With the loss, Ohio State dropped to 8-3 on the season. UCLA improved to 12-0.
Ohio State trailed by just three at halftime as the Buckeyes closed the opening 20 minutes on a 7-0 run. UCLA led 40-37 at the break.
After the Bruins stretched their lead to 10 at 40-30 following a dunk by TJ Leaf, Tate scored inside, Loving hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Kam Williams added a layup to bring Ohio State back within three.
The Buckeyes hung around in the first half despite shooting just 3-for-14 from behind the 3-point line as a team. Meanwhile, UCLA hit on 6-of-14 first-half attempts from behind the arc. The Bruins shot 52 percent from the field while Ohio State shot 48 percent. The Buckeyes made 13-of-19 field goal attempts inside the arc.
Loving led the way with a trio of first-half 3-pointers and 13 points while Tate poured in 10 points. Ohio State forced UCLA into 12 first-half turnovers which led to 15 points for the Buckeyes — a big reason why they trailed by just three at halftime.
Next up for Ohio State is Youngstown State on Tuesday at Value City Arena.