Published November 19, 2012
NEW YORK – The crowd at the Barclays Center was keeping its eyes on the court as much as possible. The fans were all keeping an eye on Shabazz Muhammad.
When would the heralded freshman from UCLA, who was cleared to play the NCAA just three days ago, enter a college game for the first time?
For history's sake the 6-foot-6 lefty from Las Vegas entered the game against Georgetown with 14:12 left in the first half. He hit his jumper and then missed his next four shots. He finished with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting — 2 of 4 from 3-point range — and the 11th-ranked Bruins lost 78-70 to Georgetown on Monday night in the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic.
"It was really exciting to get down to the court for the first time," Muhammad said. "I just finally was getting the jitters out and playing college basketball for the first time and hopefully I'll get better. I think a lot better. I didn't do a lot well tonight."
Otto Porter Jr., a sophomore returning after misssing most of the fiirst games after being hit in the head in the season opener, was loud on the stat sheet — 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and three steals — and quuiet about Muhammad.
"We knew he was going to play and we just tried to watch out for him," Porter said. "We know they had a great inside game. We just play defense."
UCLA coach Ben Howland was satisfied with Muhammad's debut.
"I thought he did a good job. I didn't plan on playing him all those minutes," Howland said. "He's been restricted with a shoulder injury. You can see he's got a lot of work to do to catch up conditioning-wise."
Markel Starks had a career-high 23 points for the Hoyas (3-0), who will face No. 1 Indiana in Tuesday night's championship game. The Hoosiers beat Georgia 66-53.
Muhammad wanted to be in that game.
"I really wanted to get a shot at them," Muhammad said of the Hoosiers. "I guess we're really not ready yet. We'll practice and get this together. I know I have to back in shape and get back to teamwork."
Thompson wanted to talk about his star.
"Otto's first full game and look at the stat sheet. That was a full game," Thompson said. "Then there was a lot of other stuff he did that doesn't show up on this piece of paper. It was good to have him back out there."
Porter was hit in the head 6 minutes into the Hoyas' season opener. He sat out the second game of the season and then came back with a flourish.
"I just let the game come to me and that's what I want to do and we'll all get open shots," said the 6-8 Porter, who led the team as a freshman in rebounding (6.8) and field goal percentage (52.5 percent).
He seemed to be right there as Georgetown shot 54.5 percent for the game (30 of 55),including 60 percent in the second half (18 of 30).
The Hoyas opened the second half on a 12-0 run — with Greg Whittington hitting two 3s — to take a 43-29 lead, their biggest of the game.
The Bruins (3-1) were within 59-53 on a 3-pointer by Norman Powell. But the Hoyas went on a 7-1 run that was capped by a hook shot by Nate Lubick with 6:17 to go. The Bruins did get within 77-70 on a 3 by Muhammad with 50 seconds to play.
"I think at the end we were all a little more comfortable and I was just trying to gel with teammates and get used to the system," Muhammad said. "I'm looking for us to get better as a team and myself as a player."
Jordan Adams had 22 points to extend his UCLA record of a freshman scoring 20 or more points in every game to start his career. Travis Wear added 12 points and eight rebounds for UCLA.
The Bruins played the last 12:13 without starting forward and Travis' twin David Wear who appeared to injure his back when he crashed hard to the court as he tried to defend a layup by Lubick. Wear remained on the bench the rest of the game but was in obvious discomfort.
"David Wear's back is really sore right now from the fall he took," Howland said.
The Hoyas seemed to get the best of the physical play despite being outrebounded 40-31 by the Bruins. The Hoyas finished with eight blocks while UCLA had four.
"They're huge," Thompson said. "We just wanted to do what we do and limit them."
UCLA had scored at least 80 points in its first three games.