USC remains unbeaten thanks to McLaughlin’s driving layup
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.
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