UCLA's inside presence now may rest on the shoulders of one guy who has been on the outside looking in much of the season.
The Bruins will learn Wednesday whether freshman forward Reeves Nelson will be available for their game against Oregon State on Thursday. Nelson underwent laser surgery to repair a partially torn retina in his left eye.
But UCLA Coach Ben Howland was operating under the assumption that Nelson would not be able to play, which would create minutes for sophomore J'mison Morgan, who has played only 49 minutes in Pacific 10 Conference games.
"I'm sure we're going to err on the side of caution," Howland said when asked whether he thought Nelson would play.
The 6-foot-10 Morgan did a solid job filling in after Nelson landed face-first on the court against Washington State on Thursday; Morgan had three blocks and three assists. He was less effective during the beating the Bruins took from Washington on Saturday.
Morgan, who is averaging 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds, said he can give a lot more.
"I feel I have to help us defensively first and foremost," he said. "I think I can take away some of those layups and I think I can block a few shots and get a few rebounds."
Brendan Lane, a 6-9 freshman forward, sprained his left ankle at the end of practice Tuesday.
He also had been expected to absorb some of Nelson's minutes.
Lane had his ankle placed in a boot and will not practice Wednesday. He is a game-time decision against Oregon State, school officials said.
Sight for sore eyes
Nelson said he was having some vision trouble in his right eye during Saturday's game. Nelson was poked in his right eye, causing a corneal abrasion, against Kansas in December and needed 15 stitches to close a gash over the eye Thursday.
Still, everyone was surprised to learn that his left eye was damaged.
"There were no symptoms, he was just getting a regular follow test on the right eye," Howland said. "The doctor was being thorough and looked at the left eye too."
UCLA forward James Keefe is expected to undergo surgery on his left shoulder Tuesday.