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Pac-10 Tournament 2011: Malcolm Lee Knee Injury Could Damage UCLA Bruins' Chances

The UCLA Bruins’ Pac-10 Tournament chances were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday with word that All-Pac-10 guard Malcolm Lee has a slight tear in his left knee. Lee left the Bruins regular season finale against the Washington State Cougars in the second half after injuring his knee, but returned after a trip to the locker room. Upon further evaluation, it was revealed Lee had the small tear in his knee, throwing his status for the Pac-10 Tournament into question.

On Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Diamond Lueng tweeted the news about Lee’s injury, but added he is expected to give it a go in the Pac-10 Tournament.

UCLA guard Malcolm Lee has a “small tear” in his left knee, but is expected to play through it, according to coach Ben Howland.

While he will play, and likely wear a brace on the injured knee, it’s unclear how effective he’ll be as the Bruins work their way through the tournament. With the potential for three games in three days, the strain on his injured knee could be significant and comes with the risk of further injury. The Bruins are projected to be in the NCAA Tournament field no matter what, making his long-term health critical to UCLA’s aspirations for a deep run.

A quick look at the Pac-10 Tournament bracket reveals the Bruins face the winner of Wednesday night’s Oregon-Arizona State game in the Pac-10 Touranment. If UCLA wins that game, Washington or Washington State await in the semifinals. Both the Huskies and Cougars are on the NCAA Tournament bubble and facing a UCLA team without Lee, or with a limited knee, could be beneficial for either team.

For more on the tournament, check out the rest of our 2011 Pac-10 Tournament StoryStream.