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UCLA basketball: Bruins beat Eastern Washington, 60-47

Ucla5UCLA’s downhill start to a once-promising season has been crammed with crippling losses -- on and off the court.

For starters, UCLA, the media’s preseason pick to win the Pac-12 Conference, lost by double digits in four of its first five games.

Then, after splitting its next two games, it lost Reeves Nelson, the volatile first-team all-conference forward who was dismissed last week.

On Wednesday against Eastern Washington at the Sports Arena, UCLA was down another big man before tipoff, as 6-foot-10 forward Travis Wear was hospitalized with a skin infection on his left foot that could be related to a snorkeling accident in Hawaii last month.  

But even without their second-leading scorer, the Bruins staved off what could’ve been another embarrassing loss and won back-to-back games for the first time this season by topping the Eagles, 60-47.

UCLA (4-5) led by many as 14 in the first half but saw that lead shrivel to almost nothing in the second.

Less than a minute after intermission, David Wear landed on the back of his head after a scramble for the ball beneath the basket.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore, who suffered a mild concussion last month, had to be helped up.

While he was on the bench, Eastern Washington (5-5) used a 12-2 run to pull to within two with 14:32 left.

But he returned and helped UCLA’s 11-1 run by hitting a three-point shot with 9:13 left to put UCLA ahead, 43-31.

The Bruins, who were led by Lazeric Jones’ 19 points, held on from there.

With his 193rd win at UCLA, Bruins Coach Ben Howland passed Jim Harrick for second place on the all-time UCLA career wins list.

Howland had reluctantly installed a zone defense in UCLA’s previous game and swore it would be used more, but the team mostly played man to man –- Howland’s preferred defensive style –- against the Eagles.

In an odd move, though, Eastern Washington ran a clock-killing offense early in the first half, holding the ball and not running plays until about 10 seconds remained on the 35-second shot clock.

It didn’t work often. With two consecutive three-point shots from Jones, UCLA used a 15-2 run to take a 21-7 lead with 5:32 left in the first half.

As for Travis Wear, who is averaging 10.6 points, the nature of the infection on his left foot is unclear.

It was serious enough that he had to be hospitalized Tuesday night and  Wednesday. He did take antibiotics and the infection responded well, a team spokesman said.

Travis Wear is expected to be released from the hospital Thursday and he’s listed as day to day, though the spokesman said the 6-10 forward is questionablefor UCLA’s game Saturday against UC Davis.

The infection was on the same foot that Wear cut while snorkeling  Nov. 25 when the team was in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, but the spokesman said doctors didn’t state the infection was related to that injury.

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-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: UCLA's Norman Powell tries to keep the ball in play during the Bruins' victory over Eastern Washington on Wednesday. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images

 
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