LOS ANGELES – UCLA’s Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are on the mend from injuries suffered in last weekend’s Pac-10 tournament, although coach Ben Howland was vague on whether Mbah a Moute would play in Thursday’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 Tuesday after taking two days off.
“He seemed to be in good spirits,” Howland said.
Love is receiving treatment on his back, but he was not limited in practice. The center is expected to start Thursday against 16th-seeded Mississippi Valley State (17-15), which has a nine-game win 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 semifinal win against Southern California and didn’t play in the title game. The junior forward, a veteran of consecutive Final Fours, was off crutches and in a walking boot Sunday.
HOBBLING: Sonny Weems, Arkansas’ leading scorer at 14.3 points a game, hurt his knee at practice but is not expected to miss the Razorbacks’ first-round NCAA game against Indiana.
BRADY REBOUNDS: Ex-LSU coach John Brady has emerged as a strong candidate for the Arkansas State job and could be named coach Wednesday.
OUTTA HERE: Idaho fired coach George Pfeifer after two years and a 12-48 record. . . . Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Van Holt resigned after six seasons following an 8-10 record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
EXTENSIONS: Clemson coach Oliver Purnell has agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2014. . . . San Diego coach Bill Grier has agreed to a contract extension after leading the Toreros to the NCAAs in his first season.