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.