After sustaining a facial fracture against USC on Thursday, UCLA freshman Kevon Looney wasn’t cleared to play until two hours before Friday’s 6 p.m. tipoff against Arizona. With a facemask on, however, he had trouble seeing and was wary of being hit again.
The Bruins lost 70-64, and the forward finished with five points, four rebounds and an assist in 30 minutes.
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
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.”