AUSTIN, Texas — All week long, UCLA insisted it was ready for the big stage.
The No. 6-seeded Bruins embraced the underdog role as it opened the NCAA tournament. They would prove the doubters wrong, they said, just as they had done on their way to a regular-season Pac-12 title.
But just 20 minutes into their matchup against No. 11-seed Minnesota, UCLA barely looked like a team that belonged in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins shot 8-of-30 from the field before halftime as it gave up a 35-25 lead to the Gophers.
No starter hit a field goal until senior point guard Larry Drew II sank a jumper with 9:42 left in the first half. Collectively, the five hit just three of their 25 shots. Star freshman Shabazz Muhammad went into the locker room with only five points, all earned at the free throw line.
The offense had little rhythm in its second game without freshman guard Jordan Adams, out with a broken right foot. The Bruins committed nine turnovers against three assists, and struggled against Minnesota’s shifting defensive schemes.
UCLA actually held a 24-16 edge on the glass against the Gophers, who entered the game ranked eighth in the country in rebounding margin. However, big men Travis Wear, David Wear and Tony Parker combined for eight fouls.