UPDATE: Kevon Looney’s injury is a facial fracture, but he has been cleared to play with a protective mask. He will gauge his comfort level in warm-ups, and is still officially listed as a “game-time decision” to play against Arizona.
UCLA might have its most talented player ready for its biggest game of the season.
Freshman forward Kevon Looney (facial injury) is a game-time decision for the Bruins tonight at 6 p.m. against Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal, head coach Steve Alford told CBS Sports. Looney had averaged 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game before taking a blow to the face 10 minutes into Thursday’s win over USC. UCLA remains on the NCAA Tournament bubble, with a chance at a bid likely hinging on whether or not it can beat the top-seeded Wildcats.
“He got hit in the face pretty hard,” point guard Bryce Alford said yesterday. “He had a pretty swollen eye. He looked all right, though, right after he got hit.”
Center Tony Parker was in a more jocular mood: “Not worried. He’s already ugly.”
The likely NBA lottery pick also grabbed the Bruins’ only offensive rebound against Arizona — the nation’s best defensive rebounding team — in a 57-47 loss at the McKale Center last month.
If Looney isn’t ready, the team will likely start freshman Gyorgy Goloman. The 6-foot-10 reserve averages 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.9 minutes per game, but had six points, seven rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes against the Trojans.
UCLA (20-12) vs. No. 5 Arizona (29-3)
Friday, 6 p.m., MGM Grand Garden Arena
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: AM 570
Scouting report: Even at full health, UCLA would have had a hard time beating top-seeded Arizona. With its most talented player now questionable to play, the Bruins’ chances against the Wildcats look even slimmer.
Freshman forward Kevon Looney took a blow to the face yesterday afternoon while jostling for a rebound against USC, and eventually left the arena to undergo a CT scan. There has been no official update on his status yet, but the worst-case scenario is probably a facial fracture. If that’s the case, maybe there’s a chance he can play with a mask on. Bouncing back in about 24 hours, however, seems optimistic to say the least.
Inadvertent, but Kevon Looney took a shot from USC's Jovanovic. Stitched up, underneath left eye. UCLA frosh is tough pic.twitter.com/Qd9LSBLNAD
— Matthew Snyder (@schnides14) March 12, 2015
If Looney is indeed out, UCLA will be in for a rough night. Continue reading
After UCLA’s 57-47 loss at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday, the Bruins can no longer get to 20 regular-season wins — a mark that would have likely secured them a spot in March Madness. Asked about his team’s postseason chances, senior guard Norman Powell remained optimistic.
“It’s fuel to our fire,” he said. “Holding serve at home, and making a run in the (Pac-12) Tournament — that’s what’s going to lock us up getting back into the NCAA Tournament.”
Asked if that meant securing the conference’s automatic bid, Powell said: “Right now, we’re just focused on these three games.”
UCLA lost at No. 7 Arizona, 57-47, but displayed some of the best defense it had all season. The Bruins held the Wildcats scoreless for more than six minutes at the start of each half, going out on 7-0 and 17-0 runs.
What was the difference?
“I think it’s just effort,” said point guard Bryce Alford. “Just playing balls to the wall the whole time. ASU, we kind of lacked in that area. Can’t really tell you why. I don’t really know. That’s inexcusable.
“Tonight, I thought we played as hard as we could. Each man, from top to bottom, I thought we played extremely hard.”