UCLA should have a better idea Monday whether Malcolm Lee will be in the game plan for Villanova.
The junior guard said that was the day trainers told him he could resume basketball activities if his sprained left ankle continued to improve.
"I want to try to get back as soon as possible," said Lee, who has been sidelined since the first half of the Bruins' victory over Pepperdine on Monday, "but I don't want to get back too early where I hurt it more."
Coach Ben Howland said that for Lee to play against Villanova on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in an NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal, the guard would first have to participate in a practice. The Bruins are scheduled to hold only a light workout Monday before departing for New York, meaning that Lee would have to practice Tuesday to play against the sixth-ranked Wildcats.
Lee said the swelling in his ankle had already substantially subsided, though he continued to wear a protective walking boot. He has received treatment twice a day, including massage designed to relieve the swelling.
The injury occurred when Lee was pushed from behind and then rolled his ankle at the same time a Pepperdine player fell on it.
"It was kind of like a freak accident," Lee said. "I heard the joints crack, and then when they took the tape off I was swollen, and I usually never swell" after ankle injuries.
Guard Tyler Lamb atoned for shaky shooting with superlative defense in his first three college games, prompting Howland to call him "the best freshman defender we've had since Arron Afflalo."
"Wow, that's a great honor for him to say that," Lamb said. "Having him put me on the other team's best player, it really shows that he has trust in me and makes me want to play that much harder."
Lamb is also working to fix his shot. He has made five of 20 shots, including only one of 10 from three-point range.
After reviewing game tape, Lamb said he noticed a mechanical flaw in which he repeatedly leaned back instead of holding his follow-through.
Howland said freshman guard Matt Carlino, sidelined since Nov. 8 by a concussion, was "starting to feel better and better," though Carlino continued to experience some symptoms related to his injury. His status for the Villanova game remained uncertain. … Power forward Reeves Nelson has made two of three three-pointers. By comparison, guards Lee, Lamb and Jerime Anderson are a combined one of 17 shots.