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UCLA survives scare from UC Irvine in OT, 80-79

Freshman Jordan Adams scores 26 points, making 16 of 16 from foul line, as Bruins avoid upset.

November 14, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

Scores of "Free Shabazz" shirts dotted Pauley Pavilion's audience Tuesday night, and three of the light blue tops stretched across torsos of UCLA players during warmups.

In an apparent sign of solidarity, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams stood with their fellow freshman, the fourth member of their touted recruiting class, by wearing apparel with his face in silhouette, the words "Free Shabazz" beneath.

But on the bench, in a black V-neck tee and gray warm-up pants, Shabazz Muhammad was forced to celebrate his 19th birthday by sitting out his second game as a Bruin.

No. 13 UCLA sure could've used the highly touted swingman's services against UC Irvine, as the remaining Bruins toiled in his absence, winning in overtime, 80-79, on Larry Drew II's layup with eight seconds left.

With two chances to potentially seal an upset win in regulation, UC Irvine's Will Davis missed a pair of free throws with two seconds left.

Davis went to the line after being fouled by David Wear, which followed a pair of clutch free throws by UCLA's Adams that tied the score at 67 with seven seconds left.

UCLA continues play in the Legends Classic on Thursday against James Madison, but after Tuesday, it would serve UCLA well not to look past anyone, as it did last season, when the Bruins opened their season with losses to pair of mid-major teams: Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State.

Junior center Josh Smith said prior to UCLA's first game against Indiana State that this season's team had to stay focused.

"Like Coach [Ben] Howland says, every time we play somebody, it's their Super Bowl," Smith said.

Irvine played with grit, but UCLA stumbled and struggled.

With lackluster showings on offense (no up-tempo scheme to speak of) and defense (no dominant effort apparent), UCLA struggled to build a lead, much less keep one.

UCLA led by double digits in the first half, then by two at halftime, and then the Bruins fell behind shortly after intermission, thanks to a 6-0 Anteaters run. The game was back and forth from there.

Michael Wilder had 23 points to lead Irvine. The Wear twins — David and Travis — combined for 25 points and 17 rebounds, and Adams scored 26 points, making all 16 of his foul shots.

Travis Wear fouled out, but David made a three-point play to give the Bruins a 72-71 lead in overtime.

As for Muhammad, it's unknown if or when the Las Vegas native will suit up for UCLA.

The NCAA declared Muhammad ineligible Nov. 9 after an investigation found a violation of amateurism issues, and a timeline for a resolution to his case is unclear.

"FREE SHABAZZ!" a man shouted when the arena fell pin-drop silent just before an a cappella group sang the national anthem. He shouted it again, for good measure.

Until a final ruling is issued regarding Muhammad, the Bruins are without him.

And until then, the Bruins look like they're in real trouble.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/BaxterHolmes

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