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UCLA basketball: Reserve center Tony Parker likely linchpin to season

By Chris Foster

12:49 PM PST, January 25, 2014

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There were two things clear after UCLA’s 91-74 victory over Stanford on Thursday.

-- The Cardinal is not among the Pac-12 Conference's top teams.

-- UCLA might be, if reserve center Tony Parker continues to play as he did Thursday.

Parker had a career-high 22 points, five on offensive rebounds -- two field goals and a free throw. It’s a performance the Bruins (15-4 overall, 4-2 in Pac-12 play) need the 6-foot-9, 255-pound sophomore to duplicate against California (14-5, 5-1) on Sunday.

“They have two big guys who demand a lot of attention,” Coach Steve Alford said.

The Bears’ Richard Solomon, a 6-10 senior, and David Kravish, a 6-9 junior, are a handful. The Bruins saw that up close in Berkeley last season when the two combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds in California's 76-63 victory.

Solomon averages 11.7 points and 10.5 rebounds. Kravish, who shoots 86% from the free-throw line, averages 11.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.

"Solomon has been terrific all season," Alford said. “There are not a lot of guys who average a double-double. He’s extremely athletic and bouncy. Kravish has an excellent touch and is an excellent foul shooter."

Parker could be the counterweight, particularly with Travis and Davis Wear, the Bruins’ 6-10 twins, battling illness this week.

“Tony is coming off better games,” Alford said. “We got to have that inside-outside presence to take the next step.”

Parker’s mandate, Alford said, is "consistency." It is something Parker has worked on after playing little as a freshman.

“This is the first go-round in doing the things he is doing,” Alford said. "He’s got to watch tape and he has to continue to learn."

Parker averages 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds off the bench this season.

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