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Mayo responds in a big way

Times Staff Writer

The Mayo clinic has been open nights and weekends in the two weeks since O.J. Mayo turned in his worst college game.

Since his four-point, 10-turnover clunker against UCLA on Feb. 17, the USC freshman has averaged 27.5 points on 50% shooting over the last four games while leading the Trojans to a dramatic comeback victory over Oregon and a rare road triumph over Arizona.

“Just making some shots, that’s all,” Mayo said Tuesday when asked to explain his recent proficiency. “It’s nothing special. We’re running the same system, the same sets, taking the same shots, just making some.”

Mayo is making more than “some” from beyond the three-point arc, connecting on an eye-popping 67.9% of his long-range attempts over his last four games. He is shooting 40.9% on three-pointers for the season.

Coach Tim Floyd said Mayo’s surge may be partly a response to his difficulties against the Bruins and his willingness to take extra shots after practice.

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“I think it’s all a result of how he handled a difficult game, took responsibility and came back out and didn’t want to put himself in that situation again,” Floyd said.

Mayo has also been a more efficient player recently, with 14 assists and only eight turnovers in his last four games. For the season, he has 85 assists and 103 turnovers.

Mayo, averaging a Pacific 10 Conference-leading 21.6 points in conference games, said he was not motivated by matching up against the likes of Arizona’s Jerryd Bayless or Arizona State’s James Harden.

“It’s not a one-on-one game,” Mayo said. “If it was a one-on-one game, I think I might win and I think I might be undefeated right now.”

Junior forward RouSean Cromwell sat out practice for a second consecutive day because of inflammation in his right knee, raising concerns that he might not be able to play Thursday against California.

Though he is low on the depth chart, Cromwell played 17 minutes combined against Cal and Stanford in January when USC traveled to the Bay Area.

“This is the weekend where he could really help us with all the length and size and height that we’re playing against,” Floyd said. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to participate [today].”

After being outrebounded in 11 of their first 12 Pac-10 games, the Trojans have outrebounded their last four opponents.

Floyd attributed the improvement to playing two teams -- Arizona and Oregon State -- that rank below USC in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin and to getting step-up performances from freshman Davon Jefferson (14 rebounds against Arizona) and junior Keith Wilkinson (11 rebounds against Oregon).

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ben.bolch@latimes.com


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