USC re­mains un­beaten thanks to McLaugh­lin’s driv­ing layup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia coach Andy En­field hopes this isn’t the only time his team wins a tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship in Las Ve­gas this sea­son.

The un­de­feated Tro­jans took their last non-con­fer­ence test Fri­day night and it turned out to be an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult one against a stubborn Wyoming team.

With 30 sec­onds left in over­time, USC had the ball in a tie game. Jordan McLaugh­lin drib­bled down the clock, drove through traf­fic in the lane and made a left­handed layup with 4.5 sec­onds left that gave No. 23 USC a 94-92 win in the ti­tle game of the Las Ve­gas Clas­sic at the Or­leans Arena.

“It wasn’t a set play. It was a clear-out,” En­field said. “We said make a play and if you do, shoot or pass it to some­one open. He made a spec­tac­u­lar move to the basket.”

Wyoming’s Jeremy Lieber­man missed a po­ten­tial game-win­ning 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer, and USC (13-0) re­mained one of six un­beaten teams in Divi­sion I. The Tro­jans fin­ished with­out a blem­ish dur­ing the non-con­fer­ence por­tion of their sched­ule. McLaugh­lin, the Clas­sic’s MVP, had 22 points, seven re­bounds and five as­sists. Jonah Matthews led the Tro­jans with 26 points and six steals, and De’An­thony Mel­ton added 16 points and eight re­bounds.

Hay­don Dal­ton, who had 18 points and 18 re­bounds for Wyoming, forced over­time by hit­ting an im­prob­a­ble 3-pointer with 2.3 sec­onds left af­ter Mel­ton missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 15 sec­onds left and USC lead­ing 90-87.

Ja­son McMana­men and Justin James led Wyoming (10-3) with 23 points apiece. McMana­men was 6 of 14 from 3-point range. “USC is a good team and they de­served to be ranked in the coun­try,” Wyoming coach Allen Ed­wards said. “We got guys that came off the bench that played well. It was a good chal­lenge. We’ve been play­ing well.”

This was the fi­nal non-con­fer­ence game for Wyoming as well. Both teams are sched­uled to play their con­fer­ence tour­na­ments in Las Ve­gas in March.

Af­ter Wyoming trailed 50-44 at half­time, the Cow­boys grabbed a 52-51 lead and later ex­tended it to 68-62. But USC re­sponded and took an 82-78 lead. The Cow­boys an­swered with four straight points to tie it with 1:40 re­main­ing.

“Wyoming is a tough team,” En­field said. “They have shoot­ers all over the place. We al­most gave it away with miss­ing our free throws down the stretch.”

The Tro­jans took the lead on a layup by Eli­jah Ste­wart with 1:22 left and seem­ingly had the game in hand un­til the fi­nal sec­onds of reg­u­la­tion. USC outscored Wyoming in the paint, 50-28.

ALL OF­FENSE

Both teams had their of­fense click­ing in the first half. From 3-point range, the Cow­boys were 8 of 16, while the Tro­jans were 5 of 9, and over­all from the field, Wyoming was 14 of 31 (45 per­cent), and USC 17 of 34 (50 per­cent).

The Tro­jans will re­turn to Las Ve­gas in March and com­pete in the Pac-12 Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment down the street at the new T-Mo­bile Arena. The Tro­jans open Pac-12 Con­fer­ence play at Ore­gon State on Wed­nes­day. Wyoming: The Cow­boys start Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence play by host­ing Air Force on Wed­nes­day. Wyoming will be right back in Las Ve­gas next Satur­day against UNLV. —AP

LAS VE­GAS: South­ern Cal­i­for­nia guard Jonah Mathews (2) loses the ball as he drives to the basket against Wyoming for­ward An­drew Moe­meka dur­ing the first half of an NCAA col­lege bas­ket­ball game Fri­day, in Las Ve­gas. — AP

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