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UCLA Sensation Shabazz Muhammad Shines in Primetime Upset over No. 6 Arizona

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

From the opening tip of Thursday night’s Pac 12 heavyweight matchup, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad let the world know he and his team were for real.

Yes, it was most definitely a team effort for the up and down – but way more up as of late – UCLA Bruins to upset No. 6 Arizona, but the x-factor in the win was the highly touted freshman once again, as he’s been in most of UCLA’s big wins this season.

After UCLA lost their first game since Dec. 1 at the hands of No. 21 Oregon this past weekend, in a game where Muhammad contributed a well below average 10 point performance, Muhammad took advantage of the national exposure Thursday night and stood out above the nine other guys he shared the court with. There were reportedly several NBA scouts in the building, mainly for Muhammad, but to also check out Nick Johnson and Kyle Anderson amongst others, which only motivated the Las Vegas native to lead the game with 23 points, scoring anyway he wanted, anytime he wanted.

After going for 20 or more points in five of six games throughout December, Muhammad had only reached the 20 point plateau in one of the previous four games heading into Thursday, where he took advantage of the undersized tandem of Johnson and Mark Lyons, getting to the basket – and the free throw line – at will, and even hitting a slew of jumpers, including two threes.

While Muhammad has become one of the most dangerous scorers in the country, his fellow freshman Anderson continues to pound the glass and has the skill set to spell Larry Drew II in running the offense, which Drew has done a fantastic job of on his own. Things are starting to look good for a UCLA team that got off to a questionable 5-3 start, coming off of what alum Bill Walton called the teams “first meaningful road victory in 5 years.”

For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth