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Shipp shapes up as stopper

UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

December 03, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

The last few seasons, UCLA assigned the likes of Russell Westbrook, Arron Afflalo and Cedric Bozeman to guard the other team's top scorer.

On Thursday night, when the No. 12 Bruins face No. 8 Texas in Austin, the task will go to senior swingman Josh Shipp.

Coach Ben Howland said his team would begin the game at Frank Erwin Center with Shipp guarding Damion James, a 6-foot-7, 222-pound junior who is averaging 14.5 points and eight rebounds.

"We can't simulate Damion" in practice, Howland said. "This guy's like a pogo stick. He stops and goes up on a dime."

Shipp, who is 6-5, 220 pounds, did not seem overly concerned, saying that it's all about sticking to principles. Not like compassion and honesty. The basketball kind.

"Stay in front of your man," he said. "Box out. Contest shots."

James isn't the Longhorns' only scorer. Speedy guard A.J. Abrams is averaging 15.8 points and guard Justin Mason adds almost 10.

"It's going to be a real matchup for our defense," forward James Keefe said. "It'll show how well we can come out and play against a ranked team."

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Healthy concern

Shipp wore a neoprene sleeve on his right elbow Tuesday but said he was healthy. . . . Reserve guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid was scheduled to have an MRI exam on a wrist injury that has been bothering him for some time. . . .

Freshman guard Jerime Anderson missed practice earlier this week because of food poisoning, mentioning "something about some chicken nuggets and some curly fries," Howland said. "I said, 'Yeah, maybe that could make you sick.' "

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david.wharton@latimes.com

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