Author: BETH HARRIS (AP Sports Writer)

UCLA beats USC 82-79, snapping Trojans’ 6-game win streak

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Before the game, the UCLA student section serenaded Thomas Welsh with ”Happy Birthday.”

The senior was giving the gift, though.

Welsh hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 51 seconds left, lifting the Bruins to an 82-79 victory on Saturday and snapping the Trojans’ six-game winning streak.

”That’s special when you have a seven-footer who can make threes,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said.

Welsh then calmly sank two free throws with 11 seconds remaining and finished with 21 points on his 22nd birthday to seal a third straight win for the Bruins (16-7, 7-4 Pac-12).

”Just stepping to the line and doing the same repetition,” Welsh said, describing his mindset with the outcome in doubt. ”Just going through my form and knocking them down, not thinking about it.”

Aaron Holiday led the Bruins with 23 points, including five 3-pointers, and nine assists while playing 40 minutes. They improved to 12-2 at home.

The Trojans (17-7, 8-3) were led by Elijah Stewart with 20 points, nearly double his average. Nick Rakocevic and Shaqquan Aaron added 14 points each.

”Both teams are going to come out fighting and make sure you punch first and keep on punching,” Welsh said.

After Welsh’s go-ahead 3-pointer, Stewart got fouled and made both, leaving USC trailing 80-79.

Aaron missed a jumper for the Trojans and Welsh got fouled while grabbing the rebound. The Bruins ended the game on a 22-10 run.

”It was a really high-intensity game,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. ”Both teams played great, especially on the offensive end. It really just came down to that last shot at the end.”

Jordan McLaughlin and Jordan Usher each missed 3-pointers for USC in the last four seconds. McLaughlin finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, well off his 12.6-point average.

”I just really hate losing,” McLaughlin said. ”The Pac-12 is a tough conference. You have to take care of your home court and try to steal some games on the road.”

Rakocevic scored 10 of USC’s first 14 points to open the second half, extending the Trojans’ lead to 55-53. The Bruins answered with a dunk by G.G. Goloman and a 3-pointer from Holiday for a 58-55 lead.

USC outscored UCLA 14-2 to go back in front 69-60. Stewart had five points and Chimezie Metu four in the spurt.

The Bruins took a 71-69 lead with 11 straight points that included two 3-pointers by Holiday, who converted two free throws after off-setting fouls by Alex Olesinski and Rakocevic, who also got a technical for a tie-up involving Olesinski.

”It was a flagrant foul by (UCLA), and Nick retaliated,” Enfield said. ”I just told Nick that he should have just let him be.”

USC built an 11-point lead midway through the first half before UCLA erased most of it with a 14-2 run. Chris Smith came off the bench to score four points and Holiday sandwiched 3-pointers around a free throw by Smith that put the Bruins ahead 30-29.

The game was tied twice more before USC got four straight points by Stewart to lead 41-40 at halftime.


USC: The Trojans were 7-1 in January for their most wins in the month since going 7-2 in 1982. They are second in the league standings behind Arizona. ”We just have to really watch film and stay consistent about the things that we do, and we should be OK,” McLaughlin said.

UCLA: The Bruins have seven regular season games remaining, with just two of those at home. The victory gives their NCAA Tournament hopes a much-needed boost, but they face a tough trip to the Arizona desert next week.


USC’s Bennie Boatwright returned after missing two straight games because of a sore right foot. He finished with two points on 0-of-5 shooting and missed all three of his 3-point attempts in nine minutes. He averages 15.1 points.


Reggie Miller led a strong turnout by UCLA alums, including Jamaal Wilkes, Mike Warren, Lucius Allen, Charles O’Bannon, Earl Watson and Tony Parker. ”Those guys are who established UCLA,” Welsh said.


USC: At No. 25 Arizona State on Thursday in the second of three straight road games. The Trojans have lost five in a row in Tempe by an average of 4.4 points.

UCLA: At No. 9 Arizona on Thursday in the teams’ only regular season meeting.

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USC beats Stanford 69-64 for 5th win in a row

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonah Mathews turned his back as Daejon Davis tossed up the potential tying 3-pointer with 4 seconds left.

Mathews’ teammate, Nick Rakocevic, watched nervously, thinking the shot looked good from his vantage point.

It wasn’t, and Southern California escaped with a 69-64 victory over Stanford on Wednesday night to move into a virtual tie with Arizona atop the Pac-12, although the Trojans (7-2) trail the idle Wildcats (6-1) by percentage points.

”My heart stopped a little bit,” Rakocevic said.

Mathews added, ”I turned around because I didn’t want to look.”

They couldn’t be blamed for having flashbacks to USC’s 77-76 loss on a shot from beyond half-court at Stanford on Jan. 7.

But the worries were brief, and the Trojans continued their best start in league play since 2002, when they were also 7-2.

”Our confidence is through the roof right now,” said Rakocevic, who had nine points and eight rebounds.

Mathews scored 18 points and Chimezie Metu added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans (16-6), who have won five in a row and 10 of 12.

”Our defensive perspective has changed a lot over the last few weeks,” Rakocevic said. ”We emphasizing defense a lot more and we’re doing a good job of executing.”

The third-place Cardinal (11-10, 5-3) got 16 points from Reid Travis. Michael Humphrey and Dorian Pickens each added 14 points.

”We weren’t in the flow of the game,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. ”It was kind of ‘Hey, let’s go out there and see how it goes and figure things out.’ It can’t be that way.”

Humphrey hit a 3-pointer and Davis made two free throws that got Stanford to 66-64.

Jordan McLaughlin had a rocky time in the final seconds. He missed a 3-pointer and then missed 3 of 4 free throws that left USC clinging to a 67-64 lead.

After Davis’ miss, USC regained possession and Elijah Stewart caught a long pass near midcourt and cruised in for a game-ending dunk.

Trailing by 15 points at the break, Stanford regrouped to start the second half with a 15-7 spurt. Pickens made 6 of 6 free throws and Travis added five points to cut the Cardinal’s deficit to 48-41.

The Trojans took control with a 12-0 run that turned a four-point lead into a 15-point advantage in the first half. Rakocevic had five points, one of four players to score in the spurt that extended USC’s lead to 28-12.

USC led 41-26 at halftime after holding Stanford to 36 percent shooting.


With USC ahead by three, McLaughlin missed a free throw, but immediately made up for it by swiping the ball from Davis. ”He’s got lightning-quick first two steps,” USC coach Andy Enfield said of his guard. ”That was just great anticipation.”


The Trojans are forcing 16 turnovers a game, and that’s how many Stanford had. USC committed just seven turnovers, although McLaughlin had two and Metu had one in the final 7:51. USC has forced 131 turnovers and made 64 steals in the last eight games.


Stanford: The Cardinal shot 44 percent, ending USC’s run of holding its previous opponents to 43 percent or less.

USC: The Trojans led the entire game and were up by 10 points with 5:12 remaining before surviving their own miscues to hang on.


Stanford: Visits UCLA on Saturday. The Cardinal needed a buzzer-beater in double overtime to earn a 107-99 victory three weeks ago.

USC: Hosts California on Sunday, a team the Trojans beat by 18 points on Jan 4.

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USC players emotional about De’Anthony Melton ruled out

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Getting official word that De’Anthony Melton won’t play for Southern California this season only intensified his teammates’ emotions.

Leading scorer Chimezie Metu, a close friend of Melton’s, is particularly upset, and it showed with a technical Sunday in an 84-67 victory over Utah.

Melton, a sophomore guard who averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season, was ruled out earlier in the week. He had not suited up in any games as the school investigated what it initially referred to as ”a potential issue regarding eligbility.”

Melton was one player mentioned in the FBI probe into college basketball, which revealed a pay-for-play scandal where schools would funnel money through shoe companies to a player in exchange for their commitment.

Federal prosecutors alleged that David Elliott, a Melton family friend, accepted $5,000 with the understanding that he would steer Melton toward a particular agent and financial adviser when the guard entered the NBA.

Melton’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, has said there is no evidence that an exchange took place. However, while USC investigated Elliott, other NCAA violations surfaced. Melton cooperated by giving USC cellphone records and bank statements.

”Based on information discovered through its internal investigation regarding the receipt of extra benefits, primarily to a close family friend of De’Anthony Melton, USC has concluded that De’Anthony will not compete with the USC men’s basketball team in the 2017-18 season,” the school’s statement read.

Podberesky has maintained throughout the investigation that Melton knew nothing about any violations.

USC coach Andy Enfield has been a staunch defender of Melton, insisting the player did nothing wrong.

”As tough as it on him as a person and on the team, he continues to amaze me,” the coach said. ”We saw something special in him when we recruited him. We were only Pac-12 school to offer him a scholarship.”

Enfield said the day Melton’s fate was announced the guard returned from an off-campus appointment and went to practice, where he ”dominated.”

”Most kids wouldn’t even come to practice,” Enfield said. ”Then he stays after for 45 minutes and shoots by himself with two of our managers.”

Melton’s eligibility issues came to light after USC assistant Tony Bland was one of four assistant coaches nationally accused of accepting bribes to steer players toward agents, financial advisers and apparel companies as part of an FBI investigation. Bland was arrested in September and pleaded not guilty in November to four charges relating to bribery and wire fraud.

Melton, who isn’t allowed to travel with the team, hasn’t spoken publicly about the investigation. He continues to have his teammates’ support.

”You would never know anything had happened to him,” guard Jonah Mathews said. ”He comes in smiling every day.”

Forward Shaqquan Aaron sat out the 2015-16 season after transferring from Louisville.

”I just tell him hang in there and keep working,” Aaron said. ”When you get back on the court, use that anger as fuel to dominate.”

Metu worn a white (hashtag) FREEDMELT T-shirt during postgame news conferences.

”Punishing innocent ppl…I see what y’all on now (at)USC-Athletics,” Metu tweeted. ”He didn’t do anything wrong but let’s suspend him bc we’re selfish and have to protect our image’ …makes sense.”

USC’s statement described Melton as ”a valued member of our program.”

”He will have options for his future at USC, including remaining in school on scholarship while continuing to work on his degree and practicing with the team, and potentially compete for the Trojans in the 2018-19 season,” it read.

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USC rides 14 3-pointers to 84-67 victory over Utah

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California played with a chip on its shoulder. First, the Trojans were still mad about teammate De’Anthony Melton being held out this season. Second, they didn’t like the reminders Utah was dropping about its eight-game winning streak over the Trojans.

So USC took out its frustration by making a season-high 14 3-pointers in an 84-67 victory on Sunday night that was its first since Jan. 12, 2013.

Jonah Mathews scored 17 points to help the Trojans (13-6, 4-2 Pac-12) complete a weekend sweep after routing Colorado by 19 points.

”We made a statement to Utah because they were talking trash to us,” Mathews said. ”Before, during, after – the whole game. We tried to keep our composure and let the scoreboard talk for us as it did.”

The Utes (10-7, 2-4) were led by Justin Bibbins with 19 points, all in the second half. They hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the game for their only lead.

Then the rout was on.

USC raced to a 32-11 lead, making eight 3-pointers by four different players in the run. The Trojans shot 60 percent from long range on the way to a 46-22 halftime lead. They had balanced scoring, too, with Shaqquan Aaron, Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart each chipping in nine points.

”They made a lot of threes at the beginning of the game that we shouldn’t have let them make,” said Jayce Johnson, who had 14 points and nine rebounds. ”If we can stop that, then we can take control of the game.”

The Utes were plagued by 32 percent shooting – making just eight field goals – and 11 turnovers that led to 15 points by the Trojans in the half.

USC kept up its sharpshooting in the second half.

Bennie Boatwright, who had just two points in the first half, scored eight of USC’s first 11 points, extending the lead to 57-32.

From there, Boatwright and Jonah Mathews combined for nine straight points, making it 66-39. Mathews hit the Trojans’ 13th 3-pointer and McLaughlin made their 14th

”We’ve been dang good at defending the 3-point line. We lead the conference in it,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ”We need to take a look at where our breakdowns are coming and get them fixed.”

Bibbins had five of the Utes’ 10 3-pointers.

USC’s McLaughlin finished with 14 points and Boatwright had 13 points.

The Trojans found out earlier in the week that Melton, a sophomore guard, will be held out for the season after the school determined that a close family friend received an extra benefit, which triggered an NCAA violation.


USC’s Chimezie Metu and Utah’s Chris Seeley were called for double technical with 6 minutes remaining in the game. They were going for a rebound under the basket and Metu shoved Seeley. Boatwright got a technical earlier in the half. Aaron said Metu is playing angry right now because of the Melton decision. ”They’re pretty close,” Aaron said.


”I like the way we finish the game. We had some guys who were competing. It didn’t look real sexy but that’ll take you a long way if you bring that kind of effort.” – Krystkowiak.


Utah: The Utes ended a lost weekend in Los Angeles, having been beaten by 19 points at UCLA. Now they’re in the lower tier of the league standings and have to face third-place Washington this week with first-place Arizona looming on Jan. 27. ”Our mojo is a little damaged right now,” Krystkowiak said.

USC: The Trojans cruised to two easy wins and moved into a tie for second in the Pac-12 with UCLA.


Utah: At Washington on Thursday and at Washington State next Sunday.

USC: At Oregon on Thursday and at Oregon State on Saturday.

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King’s 26 points spark Colorado past UCLA 68-59

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tad Boyle figured what his young players didn’t know wouldn’t bother them, so the Colorado coach kept quiet about the Buffaloes never winning at Pauley Pavilion.

It worked.

George King scored 26 points and Colorado defeated UCLA 68-59 on Saturday night, dropping the Bruins out of first place in the Pac-12.

It was Colorado’s first win in five games at Pauley since joining the Pac-12.

”When our seniors play well and our leaders play well, it makes our freshmen play well,” Boyle said. ”We are a young team and we’re growing. We just have to be more consistent.”

King led the way, making a career-high six 3-pointers for the Buffaloes (11-7, 3-3), who earned their first road win of the season. The team’s lone starting senior finished one point short of his career high while grabbing 10 rebounds.

The Buffs start three freshmen along with King and junior Namon Wright.

Thomas Welsh scored 20 points – two off his career best – to lead the Bruins (13-5, 4-2). They shot 37 percent from the floor and were 5 of 25 from 3-point range.

”It’s definitely a tough one,” Welsh said.

King scored eight in a row, including consecutive 3-pointers, to push Colorado’s lead to 55-41.

Welsh took over for UCLA, scoring 10 in a row to close to 55-51. The 7-footer made two 3-pointers while teammate Chris Smith missed three free throws. King answered with his sixth 3-pointer and Colorado led 60-51. It was part of a 13-8 run the Buffs used to close out the game.

Most of the other Bruins were no better at the line, where the team was 8 of 18, a statistic surely galling to UCLA coach Steve Alford, who was a top foul shooter at Indiana.

”That was as poor as we’ve played all year,” Alford said. ”Our effort was poor and we were flat.”

The Bruins were coming off a 19-point win against Utah on Thursday – Alford called it their best of the season – and a win would have given them sole possession of first place in the league after No. 17 Arizona won earlier.

”We got a lot of young guys doing it for the first time so maybe it’s understanding success,” Alford said.

After falling behind by 17, the Bruins closed the first half with a 12-5 run, including nine in a row, to trail 39-29 at the break. Four different players scored for UCLA, with Aaron Holiday contributing five straight. The Bruins shot 36 percent from the floor and made just 2 of 11 3-pointers in the half.


Holiday came in averaging 19.4 points as UCLA’s leading scorer, but he was held to 10 points playing a game-high 40 minutes. ”I have to do more for us to win,” he said.


McKinley Wright IV guarded Holiday at the same time the Colorado freshman was the focus of UCLA’s defense. Wright finished with four points – well under his team-leading average of 15.6.


Colorado: The Buffs were 0-6 on the road, but the win got them back to .500. Defensively, they limited UCLA to 37 percent shooting from the floor and forced Holiday – UCLA’s best defender – into six of the Bruins’ 10 turnovers.

UCLA: The Bruins had their two-game winning streak snapped by losing to a team they had owned since the Buffs joined the league in 2011-12. UCLA is 11-3 all-time against the Buffs, and had won seven of eight coming in.


Colorado: Hosts Washington State on Thursday.

UCLA: Visits Oregon State on Thursday.

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Holiday leads UCLA over Utah 83-64 to stay atop Pac-12

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Aaron Holiday has yet to miss a game in three seasons at UCLA. Starting or coming off the bench, he’s been reliable.

Now, he’s putting up numbers.

Holiday scored 20 points and UCLA defeated Utah 83-64 on Thursday night to stay atop the Pac-12 standings.

Holiday has been on a roll since league play began nearly two weeks ago, averaging 17.8 points. He also leads the Bruins (13-4, 4-1 Pac-12) in scoring with 19.4 points.

”I’ve grown since I was a freshman,” said Holiday, who started all 32 games in his first season. ”Obviously, I have different roles and they’ve gotten more and more each season. I always was a good defender. I’m always usually on the best guy and I just try to stop him.”

Holiday came off the bench in all 36 games as a sophomore and now he’s back in the lineup.

”There’s not very many that are better than him,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. ”The thing where he’s really grown is feel for the game and how you can take over a game not just scoring.”

Holiday got plenty of support from his younger teammates.

Freshman Kris Wilkes added 19 points for the Bruins, who shot 52 percent from 3-point range. Holiday was perfect from long range, making all four of his shots.

”He started the season slow shooting the basketball. He’s shooting at an elite level now,” Alford said of Holiday. ”He’s really helping our young guys a lot.”

David Collette scored 15 points and Justin Bibbins added 12 points for the Utes (10-6, 2-3).

”They came out and hit shots and got hot early,” Bibbins said. ”We couldn’t shoot the 3 and they did that very well.”

UCLA never trailed, leading by eight at halftime and pulling away to its largest lead of 21 points in the second half.

The Utes tried to get back into the game with four 3-pointers during a four-minute stretch, but the Bruins scored nearly every time down the court. Utah’s 13 turnovers led to 21 points UCLA points.

”It was like a nightmare,” Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ”We just didn’t play tough defense. I don’t think they guarded us man-to-man until the 11-minute mark.”

UCLA’s Prince Ali had 13 points and freshman Jaylen Hands scored all of his 12 points in the second half, making 4-of-4 free throws and grabbing five rebounds.


Utah’s Chris Seeley had nine points and seven rebounds while playing 19 minutes in his second game back after recovering from gallbladder surgery. He played just two minutes against Arizona State last week, his first game since Nov. 16. ”I’m not sure why, but I just feel so much better,” he said. ”Coach has told me that I have to get in shape, so I did a lot of playing 5-on-5 and getting some extra conditioning in.”


UCLA center Thomas Welsh had seven points and six rebounds in a quiet night. He came in averaging 12.8 points and 11.1 rebounds. The senior played with a clear mask on to protect his nose after getting an elbow in the face at Stanford last week.


Utah: The Utes are going in the wrong direction, having lost three in a row after winning three straight.

UCLA: The Bruins have won six of seven and things have settled down after three players were detained for shoplifting on the team’s season-opening trip to China, including LiAngelo Ball who withdrew from school.


Utah: Visits USC on Sunday.

UCLA: Hosts Colorado on Saturday.

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McLaughlin, Metu help USC overpower Colorado 70-58

LOS ANGELES (AP) — On a night when their two leading scorers didn’t produce, the Southern California Trojans won with defense.

Jordan McLaughlin scored 20 points and the Trojans beat Colorado 70-58 on Wednesday night despite Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright shooting a combined 5 of 22 from the field.

McLaughlin made all four of his 3-pointers for the Trojans (12-6, 3-2 Pac-12). They led most of the game in winning their third in a row against the Buffaloes. Metu added 14 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high six blocked shots.

”Even though offensively we didn’t play great, defensively we were excellent,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. ”Chimezie was a monster inside with his intensity and his blocked shots.”

George King led Colorado with 21 points. Freshman McKinley Wright IV, the Buffs’ leading scorer at 16.2 points, was held to seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.

”I wasn’t myself, came out flat from the start and just couldn’t get in a groove for myself,” Wright said. ”I feel teams attacking me now. I hear them talking about me on the court. They’re doing the best to try to prevent me from getting good looks. They’re trying to take me out of the game.”

The Buffs committed 22 turnovers and had 10 shots blocked.

”That’s 32 times we don’t even get the ball to the rim,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said, ”which doesn’t give us an opportunity to make a shot, doesn’t give us an offensive rebound, doesn’t get us to the foul line. Turnovers that lead to layups, turnovers that lead to 3s are huge. It’s a really disappointing offensive effort.”

Led by McLaughlin, the Trojans pulled away in the second half after leading by four at the break. He had two 3-pointers, a layup and a free throw that pushed their lead to 55-45.

The Trojans were coming off a 77-76 loss at Stanford on the Cardinal’s buzzer-beating shot to end the game.

”You just got to move on after every game. It was good to get out here and get a win like that,” McLaughlin said. ”Just being aggressive, my teammates and coaches tell me that every single day.”

Metu ran off six points in a row, extending USC’s lead to 65-53. He made four straight free throws before throwing down a huge dunk.

Colorado (10-7, 2-3) stayed within striking distance in the first half on the strength of six 3-pointers, which the Trojans matched.

But the Buffs couldn’t get a sustained scoring run going over the final 20 minutes, when McLaughlin and Metu were backed by solid defense from their teammates.


Enfield replaced struggling Jonah Mathews in the lineup with Shaqquan Aaron, who had four points, one rebound and three turnovers. Mathews scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds off the bench. ”Sometimes you just need to shake things up,” Enfield said. ”Jonah had been struggling with the four games in our league. He gave us great effort.” Mathews downplayed being out of the lineup. He’s started 13 of 15 games. ”I don’t care,” he said. ”I just want to win.”


Wright averaged 17.5 points against the Arizona schools to earn the league’s player of the week honor. He’s had three double-doubles.

”He’s proven what he can do so he’s got to play better,” Boyle said. ”Every time he hasn’t played well our team has really struggled. We’ve never had anybody pick up for McKinley Wright when he doesn’t play well. McKinley Wright has picked up for some other guys when they don’t play well, but we’ve got to return the favor for that kid because we’re putting a lot on his shoulders.”


Colorado: The Buffs experienced a letdown after sweeping the ranked Arizona schools at home last week. The loss leaves them in the lower half of the league standings, one of five teams with a losing record.

USC: The Trojans’ defense has stepped up since allowing Washington to shoot 67 percent in a loss on Dec. 29. USC is 8-0 when holding the opposition to under 40 percent shooting.


Colorado: Visits UCLA on Saturday.

USC: Hosts Utah on Sunday. The Trojans lost their only meeting with the Utes last season.

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UCLA extends suspensions of Hill, Riley until end of season

LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA has extended the suspensions of freshman basketball players Jalen Hill and Cody Riley through the end of the season as a result of their admitted shoplifting during the team’s trip to China in November.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero and coach Steve Alford announced the decision in a joint statement released Friday. The Bruins left campus on Thursday ahead of their game against No. 7 Kentucky on Saturday in New Orleans.

Riley and Hill still won’t be allowed to travel with the team or suit up for home games. However, they can begin participating in practices and team meetings starting Dec. 26.

LiAngelo Ball was suspended with Riley and Hall but his father took him out of school and he is now playing professionally in Lithuania.

Guerrero and Alford said the decision is in conjunction with ”any disciplinary decision” by the university’s Office of Student Conduct. The details and results of that process are being kept confidential because of school policy and student privacy laws.

Princeton rallies to beat USC 103-93 in overtime

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Myles Stephens scored a career-high 30 points and Princeton defeated Southern California 103-93 in overtime on Tuesday night in the second-ever meeting between the schools and first since 1972.

The Tigers (5-6) outscored the Trojans 17-7 in overtime after Princeton blew all of an 11-point lead in the second half of its highest scoring game of the season.

Devin Cannady added 23 points and Sebastian Much had a career-high 19 points for the Tigers, who won their third in a row. Amir Bell had 18 points – seven in OT – nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals.

Chimezie Metu led the Trojans (6-4) with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan McLaughlin added 24 points and Elijah Stewart scored 20.

The Tigers made 9 of 10 free throws in overtime, when Stewart fouled out and Jordan Usher picked up his third and fourth fouls for USC.

The Trojans committed two costly fouls in the final seconds when Metu got stripped of the ball in the paint and Nick Rakocevic was called for a double-dribble.

Princeton trailed by one when the Tigers launched a 20-8 run to take a 62-51 lead. Stephens and Much had eight points each, with Much hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, the first of which beat the shot clock.

Much’s five 3-pointers were a career high in a homecoming game for the native of Laguna Niguel.

The Trojans refused to concede. Stewart and McLaughlin hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final 32 seconds of regulation, the last of which left USC trailing 85-82.

McLaughlin’s layup cut USC’s deficit to 86-84 before Cannady turned the ball over on the baseline under heavy pressure.

After a timeout, McLaughlin’s layup tied the game at 86. Much missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.

Princeton came out firing to start the game, hitting five 3-pointers – three by Cannady – to take its largest lead of the first half, 23-16.

The Trojans answered with an 18-2 run sparked by six different players scoring to take a 34-25 lead.


Princeton: The Tigers struggled to start the season, losing six of their first eight games. They head to Hawaii later this week on a roll, with three games remaining before the start of Ivy League play on Jan. 5. They were undefeated in league play last season.

USC: The Trojans’ up-and-down season continues. After opening as the No. 10 team and winning their first four games, they dropped three in a row before winning two and losing again. They have three games left in Hawaii before starting Pac-12 play on Dec. 29.


Princeton: The Tigers travel to Hawaii to play Middle Tennessee State in the Diamond Head Classic on Friday. If the Tigers win, they could potentially play the Trojans on Saturday.

USC: The Trojans play Akron in the islands on Friday.

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USC beats Santa Barbara 98-87, snaps Gauchos’ 7-game streak

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chimezie Metu is known for his rim-rattling dunks. He showed some variety on his way to a career-high 31 points, hitting three 3-pointers.

”I’ve been working on it all summer,” he said of his long-range shooting. ”I’m still a dunker at heart.”

Metu also went 6 of 8 from the free throw line in leading Southern California to a 98-87 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday night, snapping the Gauchos’ seven-game winning streak.

Elijah Stewart added 19 points, Jonah Mathews had 16 points and Nick Rakocevic had 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for the Trojans (6-3) in their highest scoring game of the season. Jordan McLaughlin had a career-high 19 assists that tied the Pac-12 single-game record and broke his own school record of 16 set last year.

”I was just trying to break the record,” said McLaughlin, who wasn’t aware of the mark until the public address announcer mentioned it.

Gabe Vincent and Max Heidegger scored 17 points each for the Gauchos (8-3), who fell to 1-14 in the all-time series. Leland King II added 15 points.

USC hit five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the second half and opened a 73-48 lead, its largest of the game. Metu had consecutive long-range baskets.

”He worked on it this summer,” McLaughlin said, explaining the team’s trust in Metu’s 3-point shooting. ”We want him taking good ones, which he has.”

McLaughlin had 11 of his 19 assists in the second half, when the Trojans got outscored 54-46.

”I knew what to look for,” he said. ”Coach showed how they played defense and I’ve been in the system for four years.”

The Gauchos put together a 21-6 spurt, including eight by Vincent, to close to 79-69. But they never got closer.

Metu took over from there, scoring eight of USC’s next 10 points and extending the Trojans’ lead to 89-73. He had four dunks in the second half, two of them coming back-to-back during his offensive spurt. The junior forward had 20 points in the second half.

McLaughlin’s 3-pointer pushed USC’s lead to 98-78.

”Those are two NBA players we played,” UCSB coach Joe Pasternack said of Metu and McLaughlin.

Metu went out with a laceration near his right eye that required three stitches with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half.

The Gauchos cut their deficit to 38-30 before the Trojans closed the half on a 14-3 run to lead 52-33 at the break. Stewart and Mathews scored five points each and Rakocevic added four.

”The last four minutes of the first half is what did us in,” Pasternack said.


USC starting forward Bennie Boatwright, who averages 15.4 points, missed his first game of the season because of pain in his right foot from a plantar wart.


Former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was on hand to watch his son, Maxwell, a junior forward for the Gauchos. The younger Kupchak had one rebound, one block, one steal and two fouls in 3 minutes.


UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos’ longest winning streak since 2015-16 ended in their first game after a weeklong break. Still, they are in the midst of a major turnaround under Pasternack. Last season, the Gauchos were 1-9 through their first 10 games and finished with a 6-22 mark, which helped cost coach Bob Williams his job after 19 years. At 8-3, Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year coach in school history.

USC: The Trojans have won two straight after losing three in a row. They beat a hot team in the Gauchos and did so in convincing fashion while in the midst of playing eight games in 18 days. They began the season with seven games in 34 days and went 4-3 in that stretch.


UC Santa Barbara: Hosts San Diego Christian on Tuesday.

USC: Hosts Princeton on Tuesday in the first of two potential matchups this season. The Tigers and USC both play in the same tournament in Hawaii at Christmas.

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