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Seniors Get Their Moment

Times Staff Writer

Struggling seniors, struggling team.

While there are certainly exceptions to that adage, it is true, especially at the major colleges, that a team bereft of the leadership and experience supplied by older players can be at a disadvantage as a season boils down to crucial games.

Which makes UCLA’s records of 21-6 overall and 11-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference all the more surprising, considering it has been accomplished largely through the efforts of freshmen and sophomores.

That point will be driven home today when the Bruins close out their home schedule at Pauley Pavilion against the Oregon Ducks at 1 p.m.

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In tribute to the departing seniors, Coach Ben Howland will start all four of them: centers Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey, with Cedric Bozeman on the wing and Janou Rubin in the backcourt, joined by regular starting point guard Jordan Farmar, a sophomore

“It’s the return of the Twin Towers,” Howland said of Hollins and Fey.

How soon might Howland revert to his regular starting lineup?

The UCLA coach wouldn’t give a specific time frame for inserting sophomore guard Arron Afflalo and freshman forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but there is no question that the team is in a precarious position if it must depend on its seniors.

Hollins struggled early in the season, sat out six games because of a strained groin, but then came back stronger than ever and started seven straight games. However, after going scoreless in 22 minutes against USC last Sunday, he was yanked from the starting lineup by Howland and replaced with Fey for last Thursday’s game against Oregon State.

Fey has had his problems just getting onto the court. Groin, shoulder and ankle injuries limited his availability. By the time he returned to full strength, Fey had fallen out of favor and played only four minutes in a 10-game span before Thursday.

Bozeman has been a key performer, but a shoulder injury and tendinitis in his knee have cut into his playing time and effectiveness. Janou has played only 33 minutes all season.

So watch for Howland to salute his seniors today and then wave in those sophomores and freshmen.

*

TODAY

vs. Oregon, 1 p.m., Channel 2

Site -- Pauley Pavilion.

Radio -- 1150.

Records -- UCLA 21-6, 11-4 in conference; Oregon, 13-15, 7-9.

Update -- Bruin freshman forward Alfred Aboya, who was held out of practice recently because of a strained groin, then played 13 minutes in a 78-60 win against Oregon State, has not practiced since, his availability for today labeled a “game-time decision” by Howland. The Ducks are coming off a 73-61 victory over USC, only their third road win in 10 games. Oregon’s last four losses have been by a combined eight points.

Tickets -- (310) 825-2946.


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