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USC-UCLA REPORT

Aboya, Bozeman Are on the Mend

January 18, 2006|Steve Springer and Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writers

There was more medical news Tuesday about the UCLA Bruins. No surprise.

It was good news. Big surprise.

In a season where every MRI exam, every X-ray, every examination seems to confirm UCLA Coach Ben Howland's worst fears, he had a rare smile on his face Tuesday as he discussed two of his injured players.

Freshman power forward Alfred Aboya, who limped off the Pauley Pavilion court in the first half Saturday against Washington with an apparent injury to his surgically repaired right knee, did not cause any further damage to the knee and will play tonight against USC.

And small forward Cedric Bozeman, thought to perhaps be lost for the season because of torn cartilage in his left shoulder, has resumed practicing and may try to return as early as next week.

An MRI of Aboya's knee, taken after Saturday's game, showed nothing more than the permanent cartilage damage he has on the knee, which underwent arthroscopic surgery before the season.

"It's something that long-term he's going to have to deal with during his career," Howland said.

But short-term, Aboya can return to the floor. He was actually medically cleared to play in the second half against Washington, but Howland kept Aboya on the bench as a precaution until Aboya could have an MRI.

Bozeman, who was injured in practice Dec. 27, has been cleared to shoot and dribble in practice. While his shoulder is healing, Bozeman is also troubled by tendinitis in his right knee, which was operated on before last season.

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USC freshman point guard Ryan Francis did not practice Tuesday because of soreness in his right knee and is questionable for tonight's game.

"Knowing him, I think he's going to try to figure a way to play," Trojan Coach Tim Floyd said. "But how effective he'll be, I don't know."

Francis, who suffered the injury Monday while taking a charge from teammate Sead Odzic, said he had trouble bending his knee. X-rays were negative.

"I just hope we can get it better by icing it up and getting heat on it," said Francis, who is USC's defensive catalyst and is averaging seven points, 3.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

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Another Trojan nursing an injury is junior guard Lodrick Stewart, who rolled his right ankle Jan. 5 against Arizona State. Stewart has not missed any games but seemed tentative and scored only four points Saturday during the Trojans' 71-66 victory over Washington State.

"If I keep thinking about it and play timid then I'm going to have another game like I had last game," Stewart said.

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Several Trojan players vowed not to suffer a repeat of last year's embarrassing results in the rivalry, which included a 21-point loss at Pauley Pavilion and a three-point defeat at the Sports Arena after the Trojans had led by 18 points at halftime.

"Any time UCLA comes up, I always think about what happened last year, how we had the game at home and gave it away," sophomore guard Gabe Pruitt said. "I try to watch the tape and see what we did wrong to make sure it doesn't happen again."

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USC has received an oral commitment from Quinton Watkins, a 6-foot-4 junior guard at Compton Dominguez.

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TONIGHT

USC at UCLA, 7:30, FSN West 2

Site -- Pauley Pavilion.

Radio -- 570, 1540.

Records -- UCLA 14-3 overall, 4-2 in Pac-10; USC 12-5, 3-3.

Update -- UCLA leads the all-time series, 121-98.

Tickets -- (310) 825-2946.

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