It was 15 seconds of fame they would probably rather give back.
A UCLA victory over Oregon State seemed secure Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion when Bruins Coach Ben Howland sent walk-ons Matt DeMarcus, Tyler Trapani, Blake Arnet and Alex Schrempf into the game.
The Bruins held a 16-point lead with only 58 seconds remaining. What could possibly go wrong?
Uneasy UCLA fans quickly found out. Two rapid-fire turnovers by the Bruins and six unanswered points by the Beavers later, Howland was forced to reinsert his starters with 43 seconds left.
"I didn't want to have to take them out," Howland said of his walk-ons, "but I obviously don't want to lose the game."
Ultimately, the Bruins held on for a 69-61 victory in what qualified as their most creative near miss of the season.
Junior guard Malcolm Lee continued his offensive surge with 19 points and sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt led one giant block party for the Bruins, whose 16 rejections tied the school record they had set against UC Irvine on Nov. 23, 1990.
"I just tried to keep protecting the rim," said Honeycutt, whose eight blocks were the most by a Bruin since Jelani McCoy recorded a school-record 11 against Maryland on Dec. 9, 1995.
There were plenty of statistical oddities in UCLA's fifth consecutive victory, which allowed the Bruins (18-7 overall, 9-3 Pacific 10) to maintain their hold on second place in the conference.
UCLA won a game in which it committed 26 turnovers, gave up 24 offensive rebounds and yielded 31 more shot attempts to its opponent than it took. Those numbers were offset by the Bruins' shooting 48.7% to Oregon State's 32.9% and attempting 20 more free throws than the Beavers (9-15, 4-9).
As far as Howland was concerned, the statistic that mattered most was that his team improved to 17-0 this season in games in which it has held at least a 10-point lead.
"I would like to keep that streak going," Howland said.
UCLA's 13th consecutive victory over Oregon State -- the longest active streak by a Pac-10 team over a conference rival -- appeared to be a given when the Bruins raced to a 24-6 lead thanks to suffocating defense and some dazzling plays.
Honeycutt made a nifty bounce pass to Joshua Smith (15 points) that resulted in a three-point play for the freshman center after he was fouled on a one-handed dunk.
Smith's ensuing free throw gave UCLA an 18-point advantage and seemed to sink the Beavers, who made only two of their first 18 shots.
But a rash of Bruins turnovers fueled a 19-5 Oregon State run that pulled the Beavers to within four points early in the second half. That's when the normally defense-oriented Lee started to do his thing on offense, going in for two layups and then driving the baseline for a dunk that gave UCLA a 38-29 lead.
"I'm just being aggressive," said Lee, who has averaged 17.6 points over his last seven games.
The Bruins also locked down on defense, increasing their lead to 22 points with 6:56 remaining. Honeycutt had six of his blocks in the second half, many coming on plays in which he came over to help a teammate.
"It's really good that we have guys that can come out of nowhere and defend and get blocked shots like Honeycutt was doing," Lee said.
UCLA still held a 68-52 lead when the walk-ons entered for a rare cameo. But one turnover in the backcourt by Arnet and another by DeMarcus, and suddenly that cushion wasn't so comfortable.
"It was almost kind of funny," Honeycutt said. "The crowd was laughing because it happened so fast. They weren't really prepared to play and I'm sure they will be next time."