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NCAA men's notebook

UCLA could be shorthanded for opener

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Associated Press / March 19, 2008

UCLA's Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are on the mend from injuries sustained in last weekend's Pac-10 tournament, although coach Ben Howland was vague on whether Mbah a Moute would play in tomorrow's NCAA Tournament opener.

Love, the Pac-10 player and freshman of the year, strained his lower back in the opening minute of Saturday's title game against Stanford. He and the rest of the Bruins (31-3) returned to practice yesterday after taking two days off.

"He seemed to be in good spirits," Howland said. "He might have been a little sore."

Love is receiving treatment on his back, but he was not limited in practice. The center is expected to start against 16th-seeded Mississippi Valley State (17-15), coming in on a nine-game winning streak. The third-ranked Bruins have won 10 in a row.

Mbah a Moute sprained his left ankle for the second time this season in Friday's Pac-10 tourney semifinal win against Southern California and didn't play in the title game. He didn't practice yesterday because he had a final exam, but he did some light shooting. The junior forward, a veteran of consecutive Final Four appearances, was off crutches and in a walking boot Sunday.

Howland has played his starters major minutes this season, but the team's bench saw extra time after the injuries to Love and Mbah a Moute in the Pac-10 tourney. Sophomore forward James Keefe could see more minutes after scoring 8 points and defending well in the Bruins' 67-64 victory over Stanford.

Weems appears OK

Sonny Weems, Arkansas's leading scorer, hurt his knee at practice but is not expected to miss the Razorbacks' first-round NCAA Tournament game against Indiana. Weems, a senior swingman, is averaging 14.3 points per game. Ninth-seeded Arkansas (22-11) will face No. 8 seed Indiana (25-7) in an East Region game Friday night . . . Of the four No. 1 seeds, UCLA has played the most games against NCAA Tournament teams. The Bruins are 14-2 against the field, North Carolina is 9-1, Kansas 8-2, and Memphis 6-1. "I just think our team has played the toughest schedule," said UCLA's Howland. "Playing that many teams in the tournament, night in, night out, we have played the toughest schedule however you want to look at it." . . . Clemson coach Oliver Purnell has agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2014. Purnell took over the Tigers in 2003. He has a record of 94-67, including a school-record 49 wins during the past two years. The Tigers play Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night . . . University of San Diego coach Bill Grier has agreed to a contract extension after leading the Toreros (21-13) to the NCAA Tournament in his first season. Terms of the extension weren't announced. Grier, a longtime assistant at Gonzaga, was hired last March.

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