UC Irvine-UCLA Preview
UCLA kicked off the 2012-13 season in impressive fashion despite the absence of arguably the nation's top recruit.
While it could be a while before Shabazz Muhammad debuts, the Bruins appear to have more than enough talent to get by.
Looking to open 2-0 at the new and improved Pauley Pavilion, No. 13 UCLA tries for a seventh consecutive win over UC Irvine on Tuesday night in the regional round of the Legends Classic.
Coach Ben Howland's program entered this season with sky-high expectations after Muhammad chose the Bruins over Kentucky and Duke. The highly coveted freshman, though, was ruled ineligible about 80 minutes before Friday's 86-59 win over Indiana State, with the NCAA citing a violation of amateurism rules.
"He's handling it extremely well, the best he possibly could," said fellow newcomer Kyle Anderson, who was cleared to play in the preseason after a separate NCAA investigation. "He's keeping his composure and working hard waiting for the day he can get back out there."
The Bruins figure to hold their own while he remains out. UCLA outrebounded the Sycamores 52-33 and limited them to 31.7 percent shooting at Pauley, which underwent an 18-month, $132 million renovation.
"A real important win for us starting out here in new Pauley Pavilion," Howland said. "You could see our team was very hyped up at the beginning. We were playing very fast and missed some shots."
Freshman Jordan Adams had 21 points in 22 minutes off the bench while Anderson scored 10 to go along with 10 rebounds. Travis Wear added 17 points and his twin brother David had 13 and 10 boards.
"It's exciting to be back here at home," David Wear said. "It fired us up, the lights, the smoke. None of us were expecting all that."
Adams' point total was the highest by a UCLA freshman since former Bruin Reeves Nelson scored 21 on Dec. 27, 2009.
"It was exciting to play my first game," he said. "Let the fans who really haven't seen me play get a taste of my game."
He'll be looking to provide more of the same against UC Irvine, which has been limited to an average of 66.4 points in the last five matchups in this series. The Bruins cruised to an 89-60 victory over the Anteaters on Dec. 20 behind current sophomore Norman Powell's career-high 19 points.
UC Irvine also opened its season with a positive result, beating Nevada 78-64 on Saturday thanks in part to a 51-37 rebounding edge. Guard Daman Starring, who averaged 11.4 points last season, scored 25 while fellow senior Michael Wilder had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
"We have a team that is focused on our preparation and plays with intensity," coach Russell Turner told the school's official athletics website. "This was an outstanding effort by the entire team tonight in meeting the challenge against a quality team."
Since upsetting then-No. 13 Stanford on Nov. 19, 2005, UC Irvine has been outscored by an average of 24.3 points during a six-game losing streak against ranked foes.