Cal Poly-UCLA Preview

Shabazz Muhammad made a splash in his first collegiate start,
but he and his UCLA teammates are still getting accustomed to each
other.

The 11th-ranked Bruins will try to continue blending their
highly touted freshman into the mix Sunday night against visiting
Cal Poly.

Muhammad didn’t get to spend the summer with his teammates
during their tour of China because the NCAA discovered he accepted
improper benefits while making unofficial visits to Duke and North
Carolina. The swingman also had to sit out the first three games
this season and repay $1,600.

After initially suspending him indefinitely, the NCAA announced
Nov. 16 that it was satisfied with its penalty and allowed him to
return in time for the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.

Following a 15-point performance off the bench in Monday’s 78-70
loss to Georgetown, Muhammad scored a game-high 21 on 6-of-12
shooting in his first start the next evening, helping the Bruins
(4-1) edge Georgia 60-56. Travis Wear, with 10 points, was the only
other Bruins player in double figures, as leading scorer Jordan
Adams scored four – 15.6 fewer than his season average.

“I think he was more comfortable and we are learning how to play
with Shabazz for the first time,” coach Ben Howland said. “We
didn’t play with him all summer and then the same thing in a game
situation until (Monday), so it’s going to take some time but I
thought he did a really good job.”

Before facing No. 25 San Diego State on Dec. 1 in Anaheim,
Howland’s team will get a couple of opportunities to continue
getting into a rhythm with Muhammad as it’ll host the Mustangs
(1-2) and Cal State Northridge on Wednesday.

“I am definitely looking to build more chemistry with the team
and really getting my defensive game going as well as my offense,”
Muhammad said.

Muhammad and his teammates will next face a Cal Poly team that
hasn’t been too difficult to defend this season, averaging 59.0
points on 38.4 percent shooting. The Mustangs shot a season-best
47.1 percent Monday in a 76-67 loss to visiting Fresno State.

Their lone player averaging in double figures, junior forward
Chris Eversley (14.3 points per game), scored a team-best 14 points
after tallying a career-high 21 in a 64-53 win over Northern
Colorado on Nov. 15.

Cal Poly has faced one other team ranked 11th or higher, losing
51-45 at then-No. 11 San Diego State on Dec. 13, 2010.

Two days before that game, they fell 72-61 at UCLA and dropped
to 0-5 in the series.