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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2008

Injuries, illness a concern for UCLA

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES - UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was set to undergo an MRI on his sprained left ankle, and Josh Shipp was recovering from strep throat yesterday, putting two of the Bruins' starters at less than full strength.

Top-seeded UCLA (33-3) plays Western Kentucky (29-6) Thursday night in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals.

Coach Ben Howland said the MRI on Mbah a Moute was being done as a precaution.

"His ankle was swollen pretty severely yesterday," he said. "I was surprised and a little bit down by it. We don't anticipate there being any issue."

Mbah a Moute returned Saturday night against Texas A&M after missing two games. He had two points, eight rebounds, six turnovers, and four fouls in 32 minutes of the Bruins' 51-49 second-round victory.

"It hurt his timing that he hadn't practiced," Howland said. "His rebounding, defense, and double-teams created a lot of havoc that helped us. I don't think we can advance much further without him."

Shipp was given antibiotics for strep throat after Saturday's game, when he was scoreless in 37 minutes but came up with a key block on A&M's final shot to preserve the victory.

The junior forward who averages 12.8 points has been in a prolonged slump, including an 0-for-20 stretch from 3-point range earlier this month.

Mbah a Moute, Shipp, and guard Russell Westbrook were a combined 3-for-18 against A&M. Westbrook had five points, four rebounds, and went 0-for-3 from long-range in 39 minutes. His game-ending dunk was disallowed a day later by the NCAA because the ball didn't leave his hands before time expired.



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