NEW YORK -- After losing Monday night and missing the chance to play No. 1 Indiana on Tuesday night, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad said it didn't "feel good inside" to waste that opportunity.
Imagine then, how it would have felt for the player widely regarded as the country's top freshman and a potential future top NBA pick to start his collegiate career with back-to-back upset losses.
But Muhammad, in his first start and second game, Tuesday night, helped the 13th-ranked Bruins hold of Georgia, 60-56 in the consolation game of the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center.
Muhammad scored 21 points, 14 in the second half, as UCLA rallied at the end of the first half and start of the second before outlasting the Bulldogs in a tense stretch run.
Muhammad's two free throws with 1:15 left gave the Bruins (4-1) some slight breathing room for a 55-52 lead, and they would let Georgia (1-4) get no closer. The foul shots came after Vincent Williams' 3-pointer brought Georgia within 53-52 with 3:06 left.
UCLA's other star freshman, Jordan Adams, who set a school record by scoring at least 20 points in the Bruins' first four games, scored just four points. Travis Wear scored 10 points for UCLA, while Kyle Anderson added nine.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Georgia with 16 points, 13 in the second half.
UCLA stormed past Georgia early in the second half after struggling through most of the first. The Bruins took their first lead of the game, 35-33, when Norman Powell hit a 3-pointer with 16:39 left, following a pair of free throws from Powell. UCLA capped a 21-5 run on both sides of the half with a free throw from Anderson, giving the Bruins a 40-35 lead with 14:05 left in the game.
The turnaround could have left the Bulldogs with a sickening feeling of deja vu, having seemingly wasted a big advantage in the first half for the second straight night.
But this time, Georgia quickly responded, going on a 7-0 run, with Caldwell-Pope scoring five straight points and giving the Bulldogs the lead again, 42-40, with 10:45 left.
But UCLA held off the charge as the teams swapped leads down the stretch before UCLA pulled away.