Injured Mayo says he’ll be OK
For a player who couldn’t practice because of a strained left groin, O.J. Mayo showed plenty of explosiveness Thursday night when he sprinted past a group of reporters toward the locker room.
After he showered, the USC freshman guard said he was “pretty confident” that he would be able to play against sixth-ranked UCLA on Sunday at the Galen Center.
“I did some therapy to get it better,” said Mayo, who suffered the injury in practice Wednesday but didn’t disclose it until the next day. “I’ll be ready to go [today].”
With his roster thinned by the absence of Mayo and sophomore guard Daniel Hackett, who is sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his lower back, Coach Tim Floyd could hold only a two-hour walk-through Thursday.
“Sure it’s a concern,” Floyd said. “We would have loved to have been full speed and practicing today but couldn’t. . . . We didn’t have enough guys to get up and down on the perimeter.”
Floyd said freshman guard Marcus Simmons remained hobbled by a sprained ankle, meaning that the only available scholarship guards were sophomore Dwight Lewis and freshman Angelo Johnson.
Mayo spent 20 minutes after practice taking set shots from different spots on the perimeter and said he hoped his injury would heal with rest and therapy.
“The trainer said just try to rest it as much as possible,” said Mayo, the Trojans’ leading scorer. “I’ll be good to go for the game.”
Hackett said his stress fracture involved two small cracks in his vertebra, including one in a location similar to a broken bone he suffered in high school.
“I’m lucky,” he said. “It could have been worse if we didn’t take those X-rays and I kept playing on it.”
Hackett said he believed the stress fracture and torn oblique muscle resulted from his fall against Arizona on Jan. 31, though doctors couldn’t pinpoint the exact origin.
Now that the back spasms that had bothered him for nearly two weeks have subsided, Hackett has begun a core-strengthening program while wearing an elastic belt to keep his back upright.
“I’m going through rehab and I’m confident I can come back and help the team when my body’s ready,” Hackett said.
And when might that be?
“I can’t tell you if it’s two, four or five weeks,” he said. “All I can tell you is that there’s enough time in the season left for me to come back. There’s still a lot of basketball left to play.”
Johnson logged 37 minutes in the Trojans’ season opener against Mercer when Hackett was sidelined by a broken jaw and then didn’t play that many minutes again until Hackett was injured against Arizona.
After acknowledging this week that he wasn’t ready for the rigors of so much playing time against the Wildcats, Johnson said he was working harder in practice to prepare for the Bruins.
“I don’t know if Coach is paying attention, but I’m really pushing myself as much as possible,” Johnson said. “I’m ready to play 30 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever Coach wants me to play.”