USC Stuns SMU in NCAA Tournament Thriller, 66-65|
March 17, 2017
TULSA, Okla. (AP) For the second straight NCAA Tournament game, Southern California overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to win.
Elijah Stewart hit a late 3-pointer for No. 11 seed USC as the Trojans upset sixth-seeded SMU 66-65 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
USC trailed SMU by 10 in the second half. The Trojans trailed Providence by 17 in the second half of their First Four game on Wednesday night before winning 75-71.
Apparently, they don't know how to quit.
''We just had to keep fighting back,'' Stewart said. ''We've been in those positions before. So we're kind of seasoned to it. And you just can't stop. You just got to keep going.''
Stewart had 22 points for the Trojans (26-9), including the game-deciding 3 with 37 seconds to play.
''We ran the play previously before, and I was open,'' Stewart said. ''And then we had the media timeout. We discussed it. We ran the same play again, and I was open, and I just let muscle memory take place.''
SMU's Shake Milton missed a floater at the buzzer that would have won it for the Mustangs.
Stewart noticed that SMU wasn't sure what it was going to do in the final sequence.
''I noticed that two players were arguing about who was going to take the last shot,'' Stewart said. ''Usually, when something like that happens, like whoever shoots it, it just messes with you. The floater was short, and I felt like if - like it could have went either way, honestly. I was just - I had my eyes closed.''
Semi Ojeleye had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Sterling Brown had 17 points for SMU (30-5), which had won 16 straight. The Mustangs' last loss had been on Jan. 12.
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USC: When the Trojans play Baylor, it will be their third NCAA Tournament game in five days. But at least the Trojans won't have to travel. After the game against Providence in Dayton, Ohio, the team got to Tulsa at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
USC shot 58.3 percent in the second half and made 9 of 11 shots inside the 3-point line after the break. The Trojans shot 48 percent overall and made a remarkable 16 of 22 shots inside the arc.
SMU only used six players, and its bench did not score. USC got 47 minutes out of its reserves to 18 for SMU.
USC: Will play Baylor Sunday in the second round.