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March 8, 2008
"One more year! One more year!" the fans chanted.
They just might get their wish.
Mayo, an almost sure lottery pick in this summer's NBA draft should he decide to make himself eligible, had 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Saturday's regular-season finale.
"So far, I'll be returning," Mayo said with a smile one day after declining comment on the future. "I don't know. I think it's kind of selfish right now to be worried about next year.
"It's my first year. As a kid, I always dreamed about playing in March Madness."
That seems to be a virtual certainty for Mayo and the Trojans (20-10, 11-7), who enter the Pac-10 tournament having won five of six.
Mayo, averaging 20.9 points, said he plans to attend summer school.
"Wouldn't that be great if he did (return)? We'll be responsible and do what's right for him," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "He'll do the right thing when the time comes for that decision to occur.
"He's the most misrepresented, misportrayed athlete I've seen coming into college. He's been very dependable and accountable. He's a great kid - I wish him the best whatever happens."
Taj Gibson added 20 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Trojans, who outrebounded the taller Cardinal 47-31.
"We were able to get them on the boards. I couldn't envision that going in," Floyd said. "Taj was terrific on the boards and we got a lot of rebounds from our guards."
Stanford came in averaging 7.2 rebounds more than its opponents to rank second in the conference. The Cardinal outrebounded the Trojans 48-31 in a 52-46 victory over USC two months ago, with 23 of their rebounds at the offensive end. USC had 18 offensive rebounds and Stanford 12 in this game.
The Cardinal weren't closer than four points after that.
"No hangover," Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. "Fatigue was not a factor. USC was better, they were quicker to the ball."
Asked about USC's rebounding advantage, Johnson replied: "That speaks volumes on how well they played. Nobody has hounded us on the glass like they did today."
It was 39-33 before the Trojans outscored the Cardinal 10-4 for a 12-point lead early in the second half. USC had a 33-14 rebounding advantage at that stage.
The Cardinal drew within six again on 3-pointers by Brown and Mitch Johnson before Mayo sparked a 7-0 spurt with two baskets and an alley-oop pass to Jefferson for a dunk that made it 58-45 with 9:24 remaining.
The Cardinal didn't pose a serious threat after that.
USC led 22-8 when Brown, a junior averaging 3.4 points, scored eight straight to trim USC's lead to six.
The Trojans led 39-31 at halftime after outrebounding Stanford 25-12. Brown's 13 points at that stage were one more than his previous season high.
"I just tried to provide a spark," Brown said. "We did get (the USC lead) down, we just couldn't get over that hump. I think we lost a little gas.
"I'm very confident in this team. We have a good bond and we'll be accountable for this loss."
The regular-season finale was billed as senior day at Galen Center, but the Trojans are made up of underclassmen. Freshman Jefferson and sophomore Gibson also might declare for this summer's NBA draft.
Stanford has three seniors on its roster, but the Cardinal's top five scorers are underclassmen.