Friday, March 18, 2011

UCLA basketball: Fighting with Malcolm Lee

UCLA basketball: Fighting with Malcolm Lee

March 18th, 2011, 8:52 am

“Hey, Josh, you and me,” UCLA guard Malcolm Lee mockingly barked at Bruin center Joshua Smith as they walked through a long hallway at the St. Pete Times Forum as Thursday night became Friday morning.

There were traces of blood still visible on the gash on the back of Lee’s scalp that doctors had tried to staple together. The wound was the result of an errant elbow and Lee blamed his teammate Smith.

“It wasn’t me,” Smith protested.

“Yeah, it was,” Lee insisted. “It was all of sudden ‘Bam!’ and then ‘Oh, Lord.’”

Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas, the 2009 Big Ten Player of the Year, surely had the same ‘what exactly hit me’ feeling after Lee shut him down in the Bruins’ 78-76 victory against the Spartans in the NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional second round earlier Thursday night.
“I know it had be rough for him,” Michigan State forward Draymond Green said of Lucas (right in photo with Lee)

How rough?

A week after putting up 30 points in the Spartans’ 74-56 upset of No. 9 Purdue, Lucas was held scoreless by Lee for the first 32 minutes Thursday.

“I give all the credit to Malcolm Lee for doing a great job on him tonight,” Bruin guard Jerime Anderson said.

Lucas missed his first 10 shots and didn’t get on the board until he scored on a lay-in off a steal with 7:45 remaining. The Spartan finished with 11 points, on 4-for-14 shooting. Lee also forced him into four turnovers.

“He hasn’t had many games where he just couldn’t get anything to fall,” Green said of Lucas. “You know, they did a great job defensively on him.”

Then again Lucas hasn’t faced many defenders like Lee.

“I’ve said before I think Malcolm is the best defender at his position in the country,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

In fact even in a season in which Lee has drawn national attention for his defensive performances on Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette, the Wooden Award front runner, and Washington State’s Klay Thompson, the Pac-10′s leading scorer, the Bruin junior’s best performance might have come Thursday night.

“I really think so because he had to fight through so many screens,” Anderson said. “That’s all they do for him, set screens, ball screens. I think Mal did a great job.”

Lee added 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals. And Lee did it all while playing on a left knee that will require post-season surgery.

“It’s feels good,” Lee said of the knee. ” I’m sure it will be a stiff when I sit down but that’s what tomorrow’s for.”

As Thursday slipped into Friday it was Lee’s head that hurt.

“It was you Josh,” Lee not letting up, finally, like Lucas, wearing Smith down.

“If it was me,” Smith said, “I apologize.”


Malcolm Lee gets staples in his head

March, 18, 2011 Mar 184:45PM PT
By Peter Yoon, UCLA Report

TAMPA, Fla. -- UCLA guard Malcolm Lee took an inadvertent elbow to the head Thursday night during the Bruins' 78-76 victory over Michigan State in the NCAA tournament and needed three staples to close a gash.

The injury occurred in the middle of the second half when Kalin Lucas drove toward the basket and Lee jumped up to defend. Joshua Smith's elbow hit Lee in the head on the way up.

Lee finished the game without realizing how bad the gash was and had the staples inserted afterward. He had 16 points, five rebounds and three steals.

"I didn’t know it was bleeding until I was rubbing my head and somebody said you have blood on your shorts," Lee said. "I guess I was wiping my hands and I had blood on my hands. At first it [hurt], but then it just went away so it was nothing."

Lee said the injury would not affect him for Saturday's game against Florida, and that's good news for the Bruins. Lee is an All-Pac-10 guard and is UCLA's top defender. He held Lucas, Michigan State's leading scorer, to 4-for-14 shooting Thursday night and held him scoreless through the first 30 minutes.

"I think Malcolm is the best defender at his position in the country," coach Ben Howland said.

Lucas ended up hitting several key shots down the stretch as Michigan State whittled UCLA's 23-point lead down to two, but Lee's play keyed UCLA's strong defensive effort. Even many of the shots Michigan State was making during their run were contested shots.

"It was great seeing Malcolm shutting down their best player," guard Lazeric Jones said. "It makes everyone else play harder. He made every shot for him tough. He was there every time he took a shot."


UCLA BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Lee plays with an edge in guarding Michigan State's Lucas

By Jon Gold Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 03/17/2011 10:20:54 PM PDT
Updated: 03/17/2011 10:54:05 PM PDT

TAMPA, Fla. - UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee insists he's not playing with a chip on his shoulder after being slighted for Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors, an award that went to USC's Marcus Simmons.

He most certainly is playing with a chip in his left knee, courtesy of a small cartilage tear suffered in the closing seconds of regulation in the team's regular-season-ending win at Washington State.

But he certainly appeared to be playing with a certain something extra in the seventh-seeded Bruins' 78-76 barn-burning win over No. 10-seed Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum.

Lee locked down Michigan State's fantastic senior guard Kalin Lucas for more than 30 minutes, holding the Spartans' top scorer to zero points until a steal-and-layup with 7 minutes, 45 seconds left.

"Like I've said before," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said emphatically, "Malcolm Lee is the best defender in the country at his position."

Lee held Lucas to 0-for-7 shooting in the first half as the Bruins broke open the game with a 42-28 lead.

Even as the Spartans marched back, ultimately giving themselves a chance to win, Lucas wasn't the biggest factor.

Lucas finished 4 of 14 from the field, 1 for 2 from the free-throw line, and had four turnovers, including a travel violation with less than a second to play that effectively ended the game.

"He's an All-American guard, and we knew that," Lee said. "We knew he was going to come back. And that's when you saw them start hitting shots. Luckily we were able to take a few hits and just withstand it."

Bench mob

UCLA relied on an unlikely ally to eke out the win over Michigan State: its bench.

Sophomore forward Brendan Lane made the most of his 19 minutes - his longest outing since UCLA's 63-52 loss to USC on Jan. 9 - with eight points and four rebounds, including a crucial putback early in the game that kept the Bruins rolling.

"I had a lot of energy today, and I was just trying to go hard to the boards and that got me going," Lane said. "I got some boards and some points, and that just got me going."

Junior point guard Jerime Anderson added eight points off the bench in 19 minutes and freshman guard Tyler Lamb was efficient in his seven minutes of spotting Lee and sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt.

March insanity

Forget madness: The NCAA Tournament is proving to be even crazier than the simple alliterative phrase.

And UCLA knows it, too.

Even before nearly blowing a 23-point lead, the Bruins braced themselves for some late-game hysterics.

"When you play in the NCAA Tournament, anything can happen," said freshman center Joshua Smith before the tournament. "You look at the last 10 years - George Mason was a 12, 13 seed? They made it to Final Four. Butler last year - a lot didn't even have them picked to the Sweet 16, and they're a shot away from (a national championship). That's the great thing about the NCAA Tournament. It's up for grabs."

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