LOS ANGELES (AP) -Southern California coach Tim Floyd has taken the blame for a possible NCAA rules violation by freshman standout O.J. Mayo.
Mayo accepted free tickets to Monday night's game between Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers from Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, and attended after telling his coach of the situation.
``O.J. asked me if he could go to the game,'' Floyd said before the Trojans left for a two-game road trip that began Thursday night at Oregon State. ``I asked him where he was getting the ticket, and he said, `Carmelo.' I said, `How long have you known him?' He said `Since seventh grade.' I said, `Sure, he's a friend.'''
Mayo, averaging a team-leading 19.7 points, told reporters Tuesday he had received the tickets, which were located behind courtside seats near midcourt at Staples Center and had a face value of $230 each.
``It's a secondary violation. It's one of ignorance on my part if it was a mistake,'' Floyd said. ``I'll take the responsibility because I told the kid he could go to the game. I assumed he could go to the game. If they want to suspend me for a game, suspend me for a game, but not the kid. He did the right thing.''
NCAA bylaw 16.11.2.2.3 states that student-athletes may not receive ``free or reduced-cost admission to professional athletics contests from professional sports organizations, unless such services also are available to the student body in general.''
The NCAA could consider Anthony a friend who gave Mayo the tickets rather than a representative of the Nuggets, perhaps making the matter legal by NCAA standards.
Mayo also acknowledged he attended a Clippers game against Cleveland in November. Freshman USC guard James Dunleavy said he took Mayo as his guest. Dunleavy's father, Mike, is the Clippers' coach. The younger Dunleavy said USC assistant Bob Cantu told him he could take any of his teammates to a Clippers game once a semester.
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson and USC sports information director Tim Tessalone both declined comment on Thursday for the second straight day in e-mails to The Associated Press.

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