Travis Reed got the third start of his freshman season Friday against Kentucky, and, under intense pressure, responded with a 10-rebound, seven-point, three-blocked shot performance, easily the best of his career.
"That was a little preview of what Travis is going to do next year," senior guard Toby Bailey said. "He played like a monster tonight."
Reed, despite making only two of 13 shots, said he felt comfortable in a starting role, and far less nervous than he had as a reserve in the Bruins' first two NCAA tournament games.
"Now I know what I can do," Reed said. "I've just got to play hard, and I can do a lot of things for this team next year. . . . I really didn't get a chance to show my offensive skills this year. I was playing a role more this year.
"Next year, I think I'll get to show some offense."
Bailey, UCLA's best player in the first two tournament games, was held scoreless in the first half, missing all seven of his shots.
"They were switching out on me," Bailey said, "so I couldn't get many open looks at the basket. I wasn't trying to force anything, so I didn't just put up anything."
Bailey scored 16 points in the second half.
"I definitely didn't want to end my career [scoreless]," Bailey said. "I wasn't going to force anything, but that definitely was in the back of my mind."
Baron Davis tore up his knee last Sunday, but dressed for Friday's game, anyway, dribbled a ball anxiously during pregame warm-ups, and cheered from the sidelines during the game.
Most of his fellow freshmen, including Davis' backcourt partner, Earl Watson, saluted Davis by wearing knee bands with his No. 5 and "B.D." written on them.
Watson and freshman Billy Knight had No. 5 inscribed on their ankle tape.
Thanks to storms and the overly optimistic wishes of city leaders, the four most complete basketball programs in the NCAA tournament competed Friday in the most incomplete stadium.
Tropicana Field--nee the Thunderdome nee the Suncoast Dome--is undergoing a $70-million reconstruction to spruce it up for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' inaugural major league season and next year's Final Four.
Problem is, the South Regional is being played right now, and stadium officials are feeling the heat.
Delays have left the stadium water-logged, lacking paint and garbage cans in great parts of the interior, and cramped with hanging beams, construction equipment and a we-better-hurry atmosphere.