Pauley Pavilion went silent as Kenny Hayes of Miami (Ohio) launched a three-point shot with 10 seconds remaining in a game that saw a heavily favored UCLA squad leading the Redhawks, 62-59.
When the shot back-rimmed and went out of bounds off the hands of a Redhawk, a loud sigh of relief reverberated throughout the arena.
Senior Josh Shipp nailed two foul shots to ice the game at 64-59, improving UCLA's record to 2-0.
The win is a win on paper, but the Bruins and their fans cannot possibly disregard the travesty that nearly occurred last night.
This UCLA squad has been hyped up for their loaded recruit class, but needs to prove that they can use the experience of Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, and Alfred Aboya to mitigate the immaturity of the freshmen.
Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee were the only freshmen to log over ten minutes in the win, yet the experience of Collison, Shipp, and Aboya was nearly insufficient when it came to eliminating Miami (Ohio) from the Coaches Vs. Cancer Tournament.
It is evident that the Bruins still have some gelling to do. As spectacular as Holiday, Lee, J'Mison Morgan, Jerime Anderson, and Drew Gordon may be, they should not have been expected to fill the void left by Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Luc Richard Mbah Moute immediately.
These freshmen are extremely talented, but UCLA fans should not be surprised if they see some more of these close games against mediocre opponents.
The Bruins will complete the gelling process well before Pac-10 play rolls around, but the process will be conducted against teams like Michigan, Duke, and Texas.
Considering the talent and depth that Ben Howland's team offers, it is definitely not a stretch to say that they will beat Michigan, Duke, and Texas.
UCLA may have some worries in the near future as their team congeals into the solid Final Four team that they are expected to be, but a loss or two to a top-notch opponent early in the season won't hurt them by the time March comes around.