UCLA leaned heavily on freshman Jordan Adams and was very lucky to remain undefeated with a 80-79 win over UC Irvine on Tuesday night.
UCLA may have won but the game had a similar feel to previous early-season, head-scratching losses like Loyola Marymount (2011), Middle Tennessee State (2011) and Cal State Fullerton (2009).
The biggest takeaway from the game, outside of the obvious (Jordan Adams is a special player, David Wear has never heard of James Madison, Josh Smith has regressed and despite what Ben Howland says, UCLA should not have allowed a team like Irvine to hang around past the first half), is that the Bruins lack an identity right now.
Are they a fast-break team like they claim to be (four fast-break points on Tuesday)? Are they a half-court team? Are they big (out-rebounded 55-44 by Irvine? Are they guard-oriented? The Anteaters were successful because they had a clear gameplan and stuck to it by playing sound, team ball.
UCLA’s chance at redemption comes Thursday night against James Madison of the Colonial Athletic Association, which has yet to play a regular-season game and went 13-20 last season.