TAMPA, Fla. -- UCLA's role players had a pretty big role in the Bruins' 78-76 squeaker of a victory over Michigan State on Thursday night in an NCAA tournament game at the St. Pete Times Forum, and perhaps none bigger than Brendan Lane.
Jerime Anderson, Tyler Lamb and Anthony Stover also contributed valuable minutes off the bench for UCLA, but Lane, who has been fairly quiet for the last two months, stood out by scoring a season-high eight points with four rebounds in 19 minutes -- the most he has played since Jan. 9.
"I knew I was going to play a few more minutes tonight because we wanted to keep Reeves [Nelson] fresh," Lane said. "So when I went in there I just tried to play as hard as I can and stay in there as long as I can."
Nelson has played 32 minutes or more in seven of the last eight games, so coach Ben Howland, who has said all season that he needs to cut a few minutes from Nelson, Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt, made a concentrated effort to do so Thursday.
"That was on purpose, and that's something we'll look to do again on Saturday," Howland said.
Lamb and Stover played only seven minutes each and Anderson played 19 minutes -- below his season average -- but Howland strategically used each reserve at crucial times just before media timeouts so the regulars could get some extra rest.
Each player was solid during is minutes. Stover had two blocked shots and played tremendous post defense. Lamb helped keep Michigan State leading scorer Kalin Lucas in check and also took a charge when he was in and Anderson was the steady playmaker and court leader he has been all season for the Bruins.
"I thought our bench gave us tremendous minutes," Howland said.