Jordan Adams of UCLA puts back a rebound against UC Irvine. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
A UCLA freshman rescued the Bruins on Tuesday, helping his team escape with an overtime win.
Off in fantasy-land, Bruins fans would like to imagine that Shabazz Muhammad saved the day.
It was Jordan Adams, who poured in 26 points -- and hit all 16 of his free throws -- in UCLA's 80-70 overtime win against UC Irvine at Pauley Pavilion.
"Jordan Adams was key for us down the stretch, and the entire game for us, offensively," Bruins Coach Ben Howland said after the game.
Adams' 26 points were the most by a UCLA freshman since Kevin Love scored 29 versus Western Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2008.
In the final eight minutes of the game, Adams scored 10 points and made all eight of his free throws.
Adams said he doesn't feel like he's stepping up in place of Muhammad, who the NCAA declared ineligible on Nov. 9 for violations of amateurism rules.
"No, it’s not that," Adams said. "I see openings and I think I scored at the appropriate time when my teammates passed it. It's not anything about missing Shabazz; it’s about going with the flow for me."
Adams has scored 20 or more points in both of the Bruins games this season. He had 21 points in UCLA's 86-59 win over Indiana State on Nov. 9
"He's been playing like this since China," Howland said, referencing the Bruins trip there this summer, when they played three exhibition games against Chinese teams. "This is nothing new for us.
"He gives us a great lift when he comes in. He reminds me of some old Celtics, like a 'Hondo'" -- the nickname for John Havlicek.
"I mean, he is instant offense," Howland said.
Adams said he has accepted his role in coming off the bench, and Howland doesn't seem ready to change how he uses Adams.
"The bottom line is, at the end of the day, he played 26 minutes," Howland said of Tuesday's game.
"So he's getting a point a minute. That's pretty good."
UCLA guard Larry Drew said Adams doesn't surprise him anymore.
"Somebody asked me who I was most impressed with on this team so far, and I said Jordan, just because [of] his ability to create his own shot," Drew said.
"As a freshman, he has an uncanny ability to put the ball into the basket and get points whenever we need him too. As of right now, I'm not surprised by anything he does anymore."