Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA's sophomore forward who was Pacific 10 Conference freshman of the year last season and perhaps UCLA's best player during its run to the Final Four, had only four points and two rebounds Saturday in the Bruins' 65-62 win over Texas A&M.; That was after he had two points and four rebounds against Cal State Fullerton last Tuesday.
UCLA Coach Ben Howland said he was not concerned about Mbah a Moute's play.
"Luc didn't practice Thursday because he strained a muscle in his right groin area," Howland said. "His timing was a little off. He'll be fine."
Mbah a Moute said he also felt as if his game just needed a little fine-tuning. "I missed a couple open shots," he said. "That happens."
Freshman forward James Keefe didn't play a minute against the Aggies even after Lorenzo Mata fouled out.
"It was such a physical game," Howland said. "That was a tough one for James to be thrown to the wolves. And they had older big guys. They were just really a very physical team and that was apparent today. In a good way."
The Bruins, who had been shooting only 61.3% from the foul line, did worse Saturday, making only eight of 16 attempts. "We've got to get a hold of that," Arron Afflalo said, "before it costs us a loss."
Sometimes good things happen on bad plays. On a fast break, UCLA forward Josh Shipp tried to make a pass that smacked Aggies center Antanas Kavaliauskas in the face. The ball bounced back into Shipp's hands. Shipp scored on a layup. "Lucky," Shipp said.
Afflalo was displeased he didn't have a rebound. "That's disappointing," he said. "I have to make that a point of emphasis."
UCLA will play in the Wooden Classic on Dec. 8, 2007, it was announced Saturday. It will be the Bruins' 11th straight appearance. "I'm proud to be associated with this tournament, especially Coach Wooden," Howland said. "This tournament does a great job in giving back to the community and that is what Coach Wooden is about. Being a good person and not expecting anything in return."