Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker gave a shout out to their ineligible fellow freshman Shabazz Muhammad, donning a T-shirt with his face and the slogan "Free Shabazz" during pre-game warm ups. The Bruins managed to survive without him.
Adams scored 26 points, making all 16 of his free throws, and No. 13 UCLA edged UC Irvine 80-79 in overtime on Tuesday night in regional play of the Legends Classic.
Adams had no comment when asked about Muhammad. But coach Ben Howland, who wasn't aware of the sartorial show of support, vowed, "That will not happen again."
Howland would probably like to say the same thing about the Bruins' narrow escape.
Will Davis II missed two free throws with 2 seconds left in regulation that would have sealed the upset for the Anteaters (1-1), who fell to 10-35 all-time against Pac-12 teams.
Daman Starring tied the game on a 3-pointer and Michael Wilder's 3 gave the Anteaters a 79-78 lead with 22 seconds to go in the extra session. But Larry Drew II's layup with 17 seconds kept the Bruins (2-0) perfect at new Pauley Pavilion.
"We were lucky," said Howland, whose team opened last season 0-2 after losses to two mid-majors.
David Wear added 13 points and nine rebounds, and his twin brother Travis had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bruins. They will host James Madison on Thursday night in their second regional game before moving on to the championship rounds next week in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Wilder scored 23 points — one off his career high — to lead Irvine. His six 3-pointers tied his career high. Davis added 12 points and Starring had nine points and 10 rebounds.
"We let one slip away," Wilder said.
Both teams shot less than 40 percent, staggering through stretches of misses at both ends, while Irvine controlled the boards 55-44. UCLA's reserves outscored Irvine's 33-21.
"Every guy in my locker room came here thinking we were going to win the game," Anteaters coach Russell Turner said. "It's hard to feel like there is anything positive to take out from a close loss like that because it hurts to lose."
Starring found Alex Young in the right corner for a 3-pointer with 54 seconds to go in regulation, putting the Anteaters up 67-65. David Wear's jumper hit the front of the rim before Adams made a pair of free throws to force OT.
In the five-minute OT, Adams scored six points, coolly making four free throws when UCLA twice clung to 1-point leads.
"I take my free throws very serious and I practice them a lot," Adams said.
Adams led UCLA in scoring for the second straight game as perhaps the least heralded of the school's highly touted freshmen. He scored 21 points in a season-opening win over Indiana State. Muhammad, declared ineligible by the NCAA last week, spent his 19th birthday watching from the bench.
"I see openings and I think I score at the appropriate time," Adams said. "It's not anything about missing Shabazz."
Adams' points were the most by a UCLA freshman since Kevin Love scored 29 in a second-round game of the 2008 NCAA tournament.
"As a freshman he has an uncanny ability to put the ball in the basket," Drew said of Adams. "I'm not surprised by anything he does."
UCLA guard Tyler Lamb missed the game with a swollen left knee, a result of his recovery from arthroscopic surgery on that same knee last month. Anderson hurt his right hand about nine minutes into the game. He later returned and finished with 10 points. Howland said he would have an X-ray.
The Bruins started strongly only to let up and see their 12-point lead shrink to 36-34 at halftime. The Wear twins combined to score 12 in a row and push UCLA's lead to 19-10 before both teams went through cold stretches. The Anteaters missed on seven straight possessions and the Bruins missed four in a row.
Irvine closed the half on a 19-9 run, with Wilder scoring five points and Flowers making four straight free throws.