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Knee injury hobbles UCLA's Hollins

INDIANAPOLIS -- UCLA senior center Ryan Hollins, the most outstanding player of the Oakland Regional, suffered a contusion above the right knee during practice Friday morning and his status is uncertain for tonight's second national semifinal against LSU.

The 7-foot Hollins hurt the knee when he collided with a teammate and did not participate in UCLA's public workout Friday afternoon in the RCA Dome.

Hollins did not discuss the injury before practice. Coach Ben Howland revealed the injury during his news conference.

"It hurts pretty bad, and it swelled up," Hollins told the Associated Press after practice. "But there's nothing that's going to hold me back. I still have a pulse."

Howland, however, was less optimistic.

"We hope Ryan will be OK," Howland said. "Ryan has been playing the best basketball of his career here the last seven, eight games of our season and has really helped us as a team be able to get to where we are right now."

Hollins is averaging 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds for the season but is averaging 12 points and 6.2 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. He had 14 points and nine boards in UCLA's regional final win over Memphis.

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George Mason coach Jim Larranaga admitted a negative of his team's magical run might be that it would put more pressure to win on mid-major coaches.

"What we stand for is far greater than whether we win or lose on a basketball floor," he said. "We are all educators. . . . Is winning important? Yes, we all strive to win. But more important is we strive for excellence in all areas. We want to excel in the classroom. We want to excel in behavior off the court. We want to see our students graduate.

"I hope that the message that George Mason made it to the Final Four is not about winning, It's about doing things the right way."

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Florida forward Joakim Noah had a good time on the dais at the expense of reporters.

Asked about the team chemistry that has developed within the Gators' young lineup, he looked to Taurean Green sitting next to him and said straight-faced: "I hate him. I hate Taurean. But we have the same goals, so we have to support each other on the court. But off the court, I really hate him."

Said a smiling Green about Noah: "I hate Joakim Noah, too."

Asked if his team had an advantage over George Mason because it's played in large domes before, Noah barked, "If we worried about the things that you guys worried about, worried about who has the most hype, we'd be wrong. You guys are usually wrong when it comes to things like that. You guys think you have it all figured out. . . . Our job is just to play basketball. You guys write stories. We can't worry about what you guys say, otherwise our heads would explode."

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LSU forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis had reporters howling with the story of how he's used a diet of organic oatmeal to try to control his weight, which is listed at 310 pounds.

"You ever watch Fear Factor?" Davis asked. "You know how you're sitting there, you look like you see this nasty food, but you want to eat it 'cause you can get a lot of money? That's how I took it. I was like, 'You know, if I eat this, I can make a lot of money one day.' "

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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