UCLA freshman forward Reeves Nelson has played the role of the bruiser for the Bruins this season, and he's taken a beating as well.
During UCLA's win at Washington State last night, Nelson dunked the ball and went to the floor, with his face breaking his fall (photo from the Daily Bruin). The result? Pools of blood on the court and Nelson needing 15 stitches above his right eye.
This came almost two weeks after suffering a concussion against Cal, but Nelson was cleared to return in the second half and probably would have played had the Bruins not been well on their way to winning their 17th straight game on the road against Washington State in blowout fashion.
To opponents, Nelson has played the villain.
- On Jan. 9 at Stanford, Nelson hit Andrew Zimmerman with an elbow as he boxed out during a free throw attempt and explained it later to Blair Angulo of ESPN Los Angeles.
But then he opened up a bit, admitting that he had grown “tired” of the referees’ reluctance to call “cheap shots” by Stanford’s big men throughout the Bruins’ 11-point loss.
“I decided to get a little more physical,” Nelson said.
Nelson, trotting back to the defensive end as the buzzer sounded, cupped his left hand to his left ear as if to say, "I can’t hear you."
"Guys try to muscle me up, but then I push back," Nelson said. "First time down court, I give them a shoulder in the middle of the chest. Sometimes you can tell the next time down the court that it's going to be easier. People don't like getting hit in the sternum."