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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | USC REPORT

Stewart is back after root canal

March 22, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Looking back, it probably wasn't the wisest move.

Lodrick Stewart's wisdom teeth have been bothering him since he was a freshman, but the USC senior guard was afraid to have them removed because he's "scared to get put to sleep."

But when a recent infection caused oozing in his mouth, he had to do something. So he had a root canal Tuesday, which forced him to sit out practice.

He was back on the practice court Wednesday and should be fine for the fifth-seeded Trojans' East Regional semifinal Friday against top-seeded North Carolina in Rutherford, N.J.

The root canal is only a temporary fix. Stewart said he would have all four wisdom teeth removed after the season.

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Paulette Francis, the mother of slain USC guard Ryan Francis, was expected to attend the game Friday after accompanying them to Spokane, Wash., for their first two NCAA tournament wins.

"She's going," USC Coach Tim Floyd said. "She doesn't have a choice. She told me she might lose her job. I told her we could get her a new job."

Also expected to be in attendance is Andrew "Bull" Stewart, Lodrick's father. Lodrick said his father would attend the USC game instead of the West Regional semifinal involving Lodrick's twin, Rodrick, who plays for Kansas.

"My brother told him he would rather him be at the game with me," Lodrick said of Rodrick, who rarely plays.

Trojans players are pooling a portion of their NCAA-issued tickets to help Taj Gibson, the freshman forward from New York who needs extras to support his effort "to bring all of Brooklyn to root for SC." Each player receives six free tickets.

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Gibson said he was diagnosed with nerve damage in his jaw after being injured against Texas, but he was expected to play Friday. He will wear a protective mouthpiece.... North Carolina senior Reyshawn Terry was expected to play despite being diagnosed with strep throat. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 9.8 points and scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half last week to help the Tar Heels hold off Michigan State in the second round.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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