UCLA guard Jordan Adams had with 22 points five assists and four steals in… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)
It wasn't until the final five minutes that UCLA seemed to get involved in this basketball game with UC Santa Barbara at Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday.
Until then the Bruins seemed unwilling to play defense and unable to score 90 or more points as they'd been doing.
But finally Jordan Adams scored three free throws to put the Bruins up almost comfortably.
An Adams layup with 3:50 left put UCLA up by double digits and the 18th-ranked Bruins beat the Gauchos, 89-76.
UCLA (8-0) is off to its best start since 2006-07. New Bruins Coach Steve Alford led New Mexico to a 12-0 start last season.
Four Bruins scored in double figures, led by Adams' 22 points. Kyle Anderson had 21, Zach LaVine 15 and Norman Powell 13. Alan Williams had a game-high 23 for the Gauchos (3-3), who fell to 1-19 against UCLA.
"I'm really proud of our guys," Alford said. "This was not going to be an easy game. I always say the toughest games are when you come back home from tournaments."
The Bruins were in Las Vegas on Thursday and Friday to complete the Las Vegas Invitational, where they finished 4-0.
Alford said, "We wore them down a little bit," and he gave special praise to center Tony Parker who scored all eight of his points in the second half.
"Those were some of Tony's best minutes," Alford said.
Adams said there wasn't much the Bruins could do well defensively in the
first half, when the Gauchos shot 60% (15 of 25) from the field.
"They were just making everything," Adams said.
LaVine agreed. "We knew they could score the ball really well."
The Bruins won even though their two fifth-year senior forwards David and Travis Wear, didn't score and went a combined 0 for 3 from the field.
"There won't be many nights when we win without them scoring," Alford said.
LaVine, a freshman, came out with some hot shooting, making his first three jump shots, two of them three-pointers. His 13 points on five-of-seven shooting in the first half were a key reason the Bruins were tied at halftime, 42-42, with the Gauchos.
The Bruins couldn't guard UC Santa Barbara's outside shooter either.
Guard Michael Bryson was six for six from the field and three for three from the three-point line to score 15 points in the first 20 minutes. Santa Barbara missed two shots in the final five
seconds or the Gauchos might have had the first-half lead.
Playing as if they were still vacationing in Las Vegas, the Bruins trailed by as many as six points, 38-32, after the Gauchos' Kyle Boswell hit a three-pointer.
At the first timeout in the second half, the Gauchos had taken a 52-51 lead and they weren't backing off.
As the game progressed, it seemed UC Santa Barbara got more relaxed and the Bruins tightened up.
LaVine reached 15 points with 11:51 still to play to keep the Bruins close. He showed a new move with a reverse layup that was so soft the net never moved.
Another UCLA freshman, Bryce Alford, nailed a three-pointer to give the Bruins a 68-65 lead with 7:26 left after a turnover by Eric Childress.
"They were worn down a little by then," Anderson said.