Georgia took 10 as a team.
That, more than any other stat, told the story of the night for Georgia, which frittered away a strong start and lost to UCLA 60-56 Tuesday night in the consolation game of the Legends Classic tournament.
“I thought the difference in the game was the free-throw line,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We didn’t get there enough, they got there a bunch and they outscored us about 14 points at the foul line in a low-scoring game.”
Muhammad finished with 21 points and was 8-of-11 on his free throws. Georgia shot 6-of-10 from the line and the Bruins were 20-for-30 overall.
In the final minutes of a mostly dreary game, UCLA (4-1) took the lead with Muhammad on the bench, on baskets by Travis Wear and Jordan Adams, he re-entered with 1:58 left to play.
He made two free throws with 1:15 left, then scooped up a loose ball on the other end with a minute remaining and passed to Norman Powell, who was fouled attempting a layup. Powell made one of his free throws, and the Bruins closed it out at the line to rebound from a tough loss the night before and avoid a long flight back to the West Coast.
“It was obviously an important bounce-back win after a disappointing defeat last night,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “It felt really good to get the ‘W’ after the sting of defeat last night.”
Wear finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for UCLA, and Kyle Anderson had nine rebounds and nine points.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Bulldogs (1-4) with 16 points and had eight rebounds. Marcus Thornton had 10 rebounds for Georgia, which led by 11 about 3 minutes before the break.
“We didn’t make the plays in the heart of the game that we needed to make,” Fox said.”
The Bruins got the second half off to a bright start, tying the game at 30 on Travis Wear’s midrange jump shot.
Caldwell-Pope answered with a quick 3-pointer before UCLA took its first lead following two free throws and Norman Powell’s 3-pointer with less than 4 minutes gone.
Earlier, Georgia outmuscled UCLA underneath, mostly finding Nemanja Djurisic for easy layups.
The play was not helped by the atmosphere. Empty seats outnumbered fans at the Barclays Center, and some of the fans were wearing Indiana gear, waiting for the Hoosiers’ appearance in the title game later in the evening.
Muhammad played 28 minutes in his first start of the season after playing as a reserve on Monday night in the Bruins’ 78-70 loss to unranked Georgetown.
He appeared winded in the final five minutes of the game, and had to take a breather before coming back on for the final 2 minutes.
“I thought I was getting more comfortable out there and I am definitely looking to build more chemistry with the team and really getting my defensive game going,” Muhammad said.
The 6-foot-6 Muhammad, one of the most highly sought after high school players last season, was declared eligible by the NCAA on Friday. In his first game, he finished with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting and was 2-of-4 from 3-point range in 25 minutes.
The NCAA said that UCLA’s sanctions against Muhammad were sufficient after the school required him to sit out three games and repay $1,600 in impermissible benefits. The NCAA and UCLA found that Muhammad accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits to Duke and North Carolina.