UCLA awaits word on condition of Malcolm Lee’s left knee
Malcolm Lee, UCLA’s lockdown defender who often holds opponents scoreless for long stretches, had the Bruins breathless Monday.
And players and coaches were unable to exhale after the results of a second MRI exam on the junior guard’s left knee were not immediately available.
Lee hurt the knee during UCLA’s 58-54 overtime victory against Washington State on Saturday when he fell hard underneath the basket on the Bruins’ final offensive play of regulation. He made two free throws with 8.9 seconds left to send the game into the extra period and then four more in the final 6.9 seconds of overtime to secure the victory.
Lee had an initial MRI exam performed in Spokane, Wash., on Saturday and then a subsequent test performed upon his return to Los Angeles. The second MRI exam was performed, Coach Ben Howland said, because it involved more advanced machinery. Howland would not disclose the results of the first MRI.
Lee, the Bruins’ second-leading scorer, who is averaging 13.2 points, was selected to the Pacific 10 Conference’s first team and all-defensive team Monday. If he is unable to play in UCLA’s Pacific Life Pac-10 tournament quarterfinal Thursday against Arizona State or Oregon, it would leave the Bruins without their best perimeter defender.
Washington State Coach Ken Bone lifted the suspension of guard Klay Thompson, clearing the way for the Pac-10’s leading scorer to play Thursday in a conference tournament quarterfinal against Washington.
Thompson was forced to sit out the Cougars’ game against UCLA on Saturday after being cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession earlier in the week.
Washington State guard Reggie Moore, sidelined against the Bruins by a sprained right ankle, practiced on a limited basis Monday, but his availability for the game against the Huskies remained unknown.
Top honor for Williams
Arizona forward Derrick Williams was selected the Pac-10 player of the year by a vote of conference coaches.
Williams signed with USC from La Mirada High but switched his allegiance to Arizona, where he averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds this season while leading the No. 16 Wildcats to the Pac-10 regular-season title.
Williams is just the fourth sophomore to win the award, joining Arizona State’s James Harden (2009), Arizona’s Mike Bibby (1998) and California’s Jason Kidd (1994).
California guard Allen Crabbe, a former Los Angeles Price High star, was named the league’s freshman of the year and Arizona’s Sean Miller was named coach of the year. Washington senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning was named the Pac-10’s most improved player, and USC senior guard Marcus Simmons was named the league’s defensive player of the year.
“He deserves it,” said Trojans Coach Kevin O’Neill, who had campaigned for Simmons. “He’s the best defensive player in the country.”
UCLA had three players named to the Pac-10’s first team, the most of any team: Lee and sophomores Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson. It’s the first time the Bruins have had that many first-team selections since Toby Bailey, Jelani McCoy and Charles O’Bannon were picked in 1997.
Bryan-Amaning, Williams, Stanford’s Jeremy Green, California’s Jorge Gutierrez, Washington’s Isaiah Thomas, Washington State’s Thompson and USC’s Nikola Vucevic were also named to the first team.
Bruins center Joshua Smith was selected to the all-freshman team along with Crabbe, Stanford’s Anthony Brown and Dwight Powell, USC’s Maurice Jones and Washington’s C.J. Wilcox.
Lee and Simmons made the all-defensive team with Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto, Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham and Gutierrez.
Unable to pull rank
UCLA remained unranked in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN coaches’ polls despite securing second place in the Pac-10 with its victory over Washington State.
The Bruins (22-9) received 40 points in the Associated Press poll, well behind No. 25 Cincinnati’s 202 points. The Bruins also trailed unranked Texas A&M (177), Vanderbilt (101) and free-falling Villanova (64), which has lost four consecutive games.
In the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll, UCLA received 36 points, behind unranked West Virginia (64) and Villanova (43).
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