Ben Howland has built his reputation on hard-nosed man-to-man defense. With three freshmen in UCLA's starting lineup, the coach is having to instill some new tricks, such as zone defense.
The Bruins struggled with it in a 78-69 loss to No. 23 San Diego State in the John R. Wooden Classic on Saturday night.
After UCLA kept it close early in the game, the Aztecs shot 60 percent in the second half and tied a season high with 11 3-pointers.
"Our zone really got tortured by their 3-point shooting," Howland said. "We had some miscommunication and breakdowns in our zone."
Jamaal Franklin scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half in the Aztecs' first win over UCLA since Dec. 7, 1940.
Freshman Jordan Adams scored 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers for the Bruins (5-3). Freshman Shabazz Muhammad added 16 points, Norman Powell had 10 points and Larry Drew II had 11 assists.
The Bruins made eight 3-pointers, one off their season high.
In emphasizing zone, Howland said, "We got to do what's going to give us the best chance for success. We're so young. There's a lot of learning still that we're doing."
Muhammad has gone through just 15 practices after sitting out the first three games because of ineligibility.
"I'm not really comfortable out there," he said.
UCLA was searching for a win over a ranked opponent after falling out of the Top 25 this week after a two-point upset loss to Cal Poly last weekend.
Xavier Thames added 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and DeShawn Stephens had 12 points after playing just five minutes because of a hip pointer in San Diego State's previous game against Southern California.
The Aztecs had strong support and noisier fans in the announced crowd of 17,204 at Honda Center.
"It was definitely a hostile environment," Howland said. "It was like playing a road game."
The teams traded 3-pointers to start the second half, with Adams hitting three in a row to pull the Bruins into a tie at 38-all.
Thames answered with two straight 3s and Franklin added another one to give the Aztecs the lead for good, 49-43.
The Bruins closed to 56-53 on Muhammad's first basket of the second half. The Aztecs outscored the Bruins 11-2, with Thames hitting their 11th 3-pointer and making two free throws in the spurt that gave San Diego State its largest lead at 67-55.
Muhammad and Adams combined to score six straight points and draw the Bruins to 69-64 with 2 minutes left. Franklin made 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:38.
The teams played evenly throughout the first half, with the Aztecs leading 31-29 at the break.
The Bruins fell to 11-5 in the Wooden Classic, formerly a doubleheader event.