- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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UCLA junior guard Malcolm Lee's status is still uncertain for the Bruin's game against Villanova (ESPN/USA No. 7, AP No. 6)
on Wednesday in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lee, the Bruins' leading scorer last season, sprained his left ankle in the first half of UCLA's win over Pepperdine on Monday night. He sat out of the Bruins' win over Pacific on Tuesday and has been in a walking boot since.
UCLA coach Ben Howland said that Lee won't practice until Monday at the earliest.
"He's improving but to what level, I don't know yet," said Howland, who added that Lee would need to practice at least once before he played in a game.
"We wouldn't just throw him out there," Howland said. "He'd have to be able to shoot on it and have a practice where he can take some contact.
"It's hard to say still. It'll be unlikely he'll be 100 percent if he does play."
Lee said he's been receiving treatment twice a day and has noticed a reduction in pain and swelling.
He sounded more optimistic about his chances of playing than his coach.
"In my mind, I'll be practicing by New York," Lee said. "I just have to hope the swelling keeps going down.
"It's a big stage, we're playing Villanova. Our team is short on scholarship players, so I just want to get out there and help my team."
Ramona Shelburne is a contributor to ESPNLosAngeles.com.