- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - UCLA was on a nice run against ranked teams. Then along came North Carolina.

The 11th-ranked Tar Heels used their inside strength and depth to beat the 22nd-ranked Bruins 89-76 on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic at Barclays Center.

UCLA had beaten then-No. 1 Kentucky and then-No. 20 Gonzaga in the last nine days, wins that propelled the Bruins into the Top 25 for the first time this season.

Things were looking good early as the Bruins led by 11 points midway through the first half. North Carolina stopped taking 3-pointers and started going inside and the Tar Heels took control in the second half and the Bruins kept turning the ball over.

“We did a nice job in a lot of areas,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We just had two glaring weaknesses today and that was turnovers, which we’ve done a really good job in the last two-and-a-half weeks of limiting turnovers. We had too many turnovers and we just couldn’t get stops in transition.”

The toughest guy for them to stop either in transition or down low was senior forward Brice Johnson, who had 27 points, the second straight game he set his career high. Johnson, who had 25 points against Tulane earlier in the week, missed his first shot from the field and then made the rest, finishing 11 of 12.

Both UCLA big men - Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker - were in foul trouble throughout the game, limiting their defense.

“It was huge. It was big,” Parker said of the foul trouble. “I let my teammates down. Foul trouble cannot be a problem in this game and it was. It really hurt us in the second half.”

Johnson missed his first shot from the field then didn’t miss again, finishing 11 of 12 and grabbing nine rebounds.

“It’s as good a team as we’ve played and I think Johnson’s playing at a really high level right now,” Alford said. “We thought a key was going to be which bigs got in foul trouble and our bigs got in trouble.”

North Carolina broke the game open with a 13-0 run that gave them a 73-57 lead with 6:24 to play. Johnson had four points in the run and when UCLA (8-4) broke its 4:28 scoring drought, Johnson answered to restore the 16-point lead.

Joel Berry II had a career-high 17 points for the Tar Heels, who finished 4 for 19 from 3-point range. They entered the game shooting 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. Marcus Paige had 10 points and six assists for North Carolina, which has won six of seven.

“I like the way that we did get some turnovers out of our scramble stuff because we haven’t done that very much this year,” Williams said.

Isaac Hamilton had 23 points for the Bruins. He made 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point range as the Bruins finished 8 of 17 from beyond the arc. They committed 17 turnovers, many unforced. Parker had 13 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA, which had won five straight since returning from the Maui Invitational.

TIP-INS:

UCLA: The Bruins were beaten 83-44 by then-No. 1 Kentucky in the inaugural CBS Sports Classic, played in Chicago last season. … The Bruins hit their first five 3-point attempts - four by Hamilton - and finished the half 6 of 10. … This was UCLA’s first week in the Top 25.

North Carolina: Junior forward Kennedy Meeks missed his second game with a bruised left knee. He is expected to miss several weeks, according to the school. … Paige has 1,495 points as he tries to become the 29th player in North Carolina history to score 1,500 points. … North Carolina beat Ohio State 82-74 in last year’s CBS Sports Classic. … North Carolina hit its first shot of the game - a 3 by Paige - then missed the next seven. It was worse from long range. Paige’s 3 was the only one the Tar Heels made in the first half in 11 attempts. … Former North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was in the crowd.

UP NEXT:

UCLA hosts McNeese State on Tuesday.

North Carolina hosts Appalachian State on Monday.

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