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USC basketball: Kevin O'Neill was on NCAA infractions committee call

February 22, 2010 |  6:33 pm

Kevin Unseen in the box score of Saturday's loss at Washington State was that USC Coach Kevin O'Neill was distracted the day before the game, as in, he wasn't even with the team.

Rather, he was still in Seattle, where USC beat Washington Thursday, because he was on a conference call with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in Tempe, Ariz., which for three days heard testimony from USC officials and others regarding allegations of major NCAA rules violations in both the Trojans' football and men's basketball programs. Two of O'Neill's assistant coaches -- Phil Johnson and Bob Cantu -- were among those attending the hearing.

O'Neill told his players about the call, but, under orders from committee chairman Paul Dee, was unable to comment. The call delayed him from joining the team until Friday night, and, as such, the team didn't do its usual routine that day, which typically includes a light shoot-around and/or a walkthrough, guard Dwight Lewis said. 

The team did those things the next morning, Lewis said, but lost that afternoon against the Cougars, 51-47, in one of its poorer offensive performances of the season.

"It was different, but I don't think it affected us in the game," Lewis said of the coaching absences. "It had nothing to do with who was there or who wasn't there."

Johnson and Cantu were with the team at Monday's practice.

USC hosts Oregon and Oregon State this week at the Galen Center. Tipoff for Oregon is 7:30 p.m. Thursday; tipoff for Oregon State is 4:30 p.m. Saturday. 

The Trojans (16-10 overall, 8-6 in Pacific 10 Conference) sit in third place in the conference standings, 1 1/2 games in back of leader California, which is 10-5 in conference play.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Kevin O'Neill. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire