ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Obinna Ekezie, Maryland's 6-foot-9 freshman center, is expected to start today against UCLA in place of injured Mario Lucas. And, after the NCAA reviewed his spring trip to Chicago for an NBA playoff game, junior forward Keith Booth will start again, as usual.
After Lucas missed his second straight practice yesterday because of a sprained ankle, coach Gary Williams said that Ekezie likely would start in the Wooden Classic against UCLA freshman Jelani McCoy.
"Sometimes necessity is a great thing," Williams said. "You just do it and don't worry about it. Obinna's proven he can play."
Lucas said he would play "only if they need me."
Meanwhile, for the second time since Nov. 22, Maryland requested -- and received -- immediate restoration of Booth's eligibility after the NCAA said he had to repay $115 in a playoff ticket, round-trip plane ticket and a night's shared lodging in Chicago.
"I feel sorry for Keith Booth," Williams said. "He's really not been responsible for any of the accusations that have been made against him. I hope this ends things and Keith can relax and enjoy his junior year as co-captain."