Wildcats will have to contend with UCLA’s Nelson in Pac-10 tournamentby Anthony Gimino on Mar. 09, 2010, under Sports
Arizona had a hard time beating UCLA at home last week, overcoming a 14-point second-half deficit to win 78-73. And that was when the Bruins were playing without starting big man Reeves Nelson.
Now, the teams meet again Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament in Staples Center in Los Angeles. And Nelson is back from an eye injury that kept him out for four games.
Nelson, a freshman, is averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds and is shooting 63.3 percent from the field (107 of 169).
“Reeves Nelson is one of the most talented young players in our conference,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
“His field goal percentage is striking. What he does is he gives UCLA that option on the block, and he’s a physical player who can get to the free throw line. To me, he makes them a much better team on offense and on defense. Just really a physical, aggressive player that all coaches love to have on their team.”
UCLA was 1-3 in the games Reeves missed. He and UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt were selected to the Pac-10′s five-man All-Freshman team. Arizona forward Derrick Williams is the league’s Freshman of the Year.
When the teams met last Thursday, Arizona and UCLA battled to a standstill on the boards, each team grabbing 33 rebounds.
“It was difficult to watch the team lose a few games in a row,” Nelson was quoted as saying by the L.A. Daily News. “It wasn’t necessarily because I wasn’t playing — I’m not going to flatter myself that much. But I think with me playing we have a better chance to win.”
Added Miller about Reeves:
“He makes a difference, particularly that field goal percentage because they do such a good job of getting their good payers the ball in position score. You get him the ball in position to score, he really finishes it well.”