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Battered Bruins faced with tall order against Arizona State

Freshman guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad commits an offensive foul on USC guard Jio Fontan in the first half.

Men's Basketball

Arizona St
Tonight, 8:30 p.m.

Pauley Pavilion
Pac-12 Networks

By Chris Nguyen

Feb. 27, 2013 2:05 a.m.

After losing to USC in its first matchup, UCLA was able to right the ship the second time around and dismantle the Trojans on Sunday afternoon.

But this ship may be a little more difficult to salvage, after the Bruins sunk faster than the Titanic in their first round against the Arizona State Sun Devils a few weeks ago.

ASU held UCLA to 60 points on 34.7 percent shooting from the floor and put up 78 of their own.

And much like the last time the Bruins took on the Sun Devils, UCLA will likely be missing its best post player in redshirt junior forward Travis Wear.

Wear missed the game against USC with a sprained foot and coach Ben Howland declared him as doubtful for today.

“We’re going to be conservative with it,” Howland said.

“We have a lot of basketball left to play. We’re not going to rush him back unless he’s comfortable. It’s got to be his thing.”

With a void in the lineup, freshman forward/center Tony Parker stepped up in the way Bruin fans have been waiting for all season Sunday.

Parker garnered 17 minutes on the floor, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in his most productive Pac-12 game of the season.

While the team’s other three freshmen from his recruiting class have all found homes in the starting lineup, Parker has gotten limited minutes off the bench.

But now his time has come and he’s needed as much as ever with an Arizona State team that boasts a 7-foot-2-inch center in junior Jordan Bachynski who dominated UCLA the last time they played in Tempe, Ariz.

Bachynski shot 10-12 from the field, good for 22 points, and hauled in 15 boards, eight on the offensive end.

Parker’s frame will need to play a big part in preventing Bachynski from breaking down the Bruins again tonight.

“He uses his size really well, he’s 7-2, second in the nation in shot blocks,” Parker said of Bachynski. “It’s going to be hard stopping him but you have to contain him, you have to get physical with him.”

“It works in my favor. He’s tall and long and I’m kind of short and kind of wider. It’s a little bit easier for me than it is for him.”

Howland echoed Parker’s role as a physical presence in the paint.

“What he gives us … is the physicality inside, he’s hitting, banging bodies,” Howland said.

And while UCLA will need Parker to step up while Wear is out, it also needs freshman guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad to return to health.

Muhammad suffered from pink eye against USC and his ability to play has been greatly hampered.

“I didn’t really shoot it well, my eye wasn’t really open,” Muhammad said. “It seems like it was (disproportionate), I can’t really see out of my right eye, but it’s really open now so I’ll be fine tomorrow.”

Howland said that Muhammad has been fitted for goggles to be worn at practice, but he states he won’t be wearing them for games.

“I just don’t want to wear goggles because I’ve never worn them before so I don’t want to risk anything and be uncomfortable on the floor, especially when its crunch time and we’re trying to win so I can’t rely on those goggles,” Muhammad said.

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