UCLA guard-forward Shabazz Muhammad looks to pass as Cal Poly players Brian… (Jason Redmond / Associated…)
The film doesn't lie.
When the UCLA basketball team broke down footage of its upset loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, "it was brutal," freshman Jordan Adams said Tuesday.
"We didn't play hard," he added. "The film showed it all."
The Bruins fell, 70-68, Sunday after leading the Mustangs by 18 points in the second half. The loss dropped UCLA (4-2) out of the Associated Press poll. The Bruins had been ranked No. 11.
Before the season, opponents such as San Luis Obispo would have been considered cupcake wins for a talented UCLA team that featured the nation's top recruiting class. But suddenly it seems like UCLA could lose to anyone, anywhere.
The Bruins face Cal State Northridge (6-1) on Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion.
"We really need to come out and make a statement," freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad said.
Several UCLA players said improvement starts with practice, and point guard Larry Drew II said the team's practices leading up to the San Luis Obispo game were poor.
"You practice how you want to play," Drew II said. "I think it showed."
Muhammad said practices have been better the last two days. But for some of UCLA's highly rated freshmen, losing is something they haven't experienced in a while. Kyle Anderson, for example, had not lost more than one game in a season since his freshman season in high school.
"It's a little weird," said Anderson, whose high school teams had a combined record of 119-6 during four seasons as a starter, including a 93-1 mark in his final three seasons.
Coach Ben Howland said many of the team's key parts are freshmen who are still adjusting to playing at the college level.
"Their learning curve will be faster than most because of their talent level," Howland said, "but it's still a learning curve."
That learning curve is steep, Muhammad said.
"College guys are just as quick as you, just as strong as you, so you have to do the little things," he said. "That's what I think we're not doing as a team. And that's why we found ourselves losing that game that we shouldn't have lost to a less-talented team."
Howland and his players have stressed that fixing their issues will take time.
"Rome wasn't built in a day," guard Norman Powell said.
Playing into shape
Ankle and shoulder injuries have kept Muhammad out of practice, and he also sat out three games because the NCAA had declared him ineligible for a violation of its amateurism rules.
In the three games he has played since his eligibility was reinstated, Muhammad has averaged 17 points. He said he's about 80% in condition and that it will take him a couple more games before he's in top game shape.