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Mbah a Moute listed as probable for USC

Times Staff Writer

UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute participated in his first full-contact practice since spraining his left ankle Feb. 2 and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against USC.

On the other end of the injury spectrum, Bruins Coach Ben Howland says it has become “very, very likely” that swingman Michael Roll will not play any more this season.

Mbah a Moute missed the last two UCLA games because of the ankle. He also missed all but one minute of the second half in last month’s UCLA loss to USC and the following two games because of a concussion.

The junior is the fifth-leading scorer (9.2) and second-leading rebounder (5.1) for the sixth-ranked Bruins (21-3, 9-2). “He looked good,” Howland said after Friday’s practice. “His ankle was fine, but he was a little winded.”

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Mbah a Moute missed eight days of games and practices after suffering the concussion against USC, then came back to score six points with five rebounds in 17 minutes of UCLA’s 84-51 win over Arizona State and have six points, four rebounds and two steals before spraining his ankle in the 82-60 win over Arizona.

Before Friday’s practice Howland said of Mbah a Moute, “He’s improving every day. I’m cautiously optimistic but I can’t say he’s probable.”

Roll, who has been out since Dec. 31 when he reinjured the plantar fascia of his left foot, is still at least two weeks away from being able to practice. Roll, who was counted on to be an outside shooting threat and top backcourt reserve, has played in only six games this season, making him eligible to count this as a redshirt season and have two years of eligibility left.

He partially tore the connective tissue in the foot during the preseason. He tried to come back and ruptured the plantar fascia.

Howland said the painful condition bothered Roll all last season as well, and that this fall Roll went to a doctor outside UCLA.

“The worst thing about his situation,” Howland said, “is he had his plantar fascia injected. He said he was going to get some outside opinions, not one of our own. My experience in the past is that you don’t inject it because that increases the likelihood of a rupture.”

Roll had said earlier this season that he had taken an injection of the anti-inflammatory drug cortisone.

Howland said the injection came before the initial injury last fall. Roll was unavailable for interviews Friday, according to the UCLA sports information department.

“Hindsight is 20-20,” Howland said. “But I’m disappointed in the final result of the decision.”

Also using hindsight, Howland said he wished he had never suggested that James Keefe take a redshirt season to rehabilitate his surgically repaired shoulder. When Roll was injured the second time, Keefe had to speed his recovery and be available for Pacific 10 Conference games.

“I knew that with Mike it was a long, long deal,” Howland said. “I struggled with that whole decision, both to redshirt James and to bring him back.

“What an idiot I am to have thought that to begin with. What a dummy I am to have thought otherwise.”

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diane.pucin@latimes.com


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