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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

BENNIE’S BACK

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.

FAMOUS FACES

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.

UP NEXT

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.

More AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.

STEAL THIS

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.”

PRESSURE

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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

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.

More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.

TECHS

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.

HE SAID IT

”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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

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

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

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.

SHUT DOWN

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.

WRIGHT STUFF

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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

Colorado: Hosts Washington State on Thursday.

UCLA: Visits Oregon State on Thursday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.

COMING BACK

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.”

QUIET BIG MAN

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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

Utah: Visits USC on Sunday.

UCLA: Hosts Colorado on Saturday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.

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.

BENNIE’S BAD FOOT

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.

MITCH’S KID

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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

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.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 20 TCU beats No. 22 Nevada 84-80 for 15th straight win

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After dominating the first 30 minutes, TCU cooled off and Nevada came on strong.

The 20th-ranked Horned Frogs still had enough left to hang on for an 84-80 victory Friday night in the Hall of Fame Basketball Classic, extending the nation’s best winning streak to 15 games.

TCU (10-0) never trailed while playing the last game of a tripleheader in front of a sparse, late-night crowd at Staples Center. Jaylen Fisher scored 20 points, and Kenrich Williams added 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double during the streak.

”I was just trying to feed off my teammates, let them give me open shots and let their drive feed my drive,” Fisher said.

The Horned Frogs are off to their best start since going 13-0 in 2014-15.

”We’ve gotten better the last two weeks,” coach Jamie Dixon said. ”We’ve really adapted and done some things better. We can be really good. Our offensive numbers are about as good as they can be. Defensively, we’re getting better.”

Cody Martin had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the 22nd-ranked Wolf Pack (8-2). Jordan Caroline added 21 points and 10 rebounds. Martin’s twin brother, Caleb, had 17 points.

”The energy, effort and enthusiasm was too late,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. ”We didn’t defend like I thought we would.”

Kendall Stephens hit a 3-pointer to leave Nevada trailing 83-80 with eight seconds left.

Fisher got fouled and made one free throw. Then he stole the ball from Cody Martin as time expired.

”I still think we’re a really, really, really good team,” Cody Martin said. ”We just came out a little lackadaisical.”

Nevada closed within eight points early in the second half before TCU went on a 19-10 run, extending its lead to 67-50. The Horned Frogs got three 3-pointers, two from Fisher, during the spurt. He also made two free throws.

From there, the Wolf Pack cut their deficit to 72-67 thanks to the Martin twins. They anchored a 17-5 run, going 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

”We were playing behind the whole game,” Caroline said. ”We didn’t have the energy we needed to.”

Williams hit a 3 that pushed TCU’s lead to 79-69 before Nevada chipped away at it.

”We got a great win out of it on a neutral court,” Dixon said. ”Those kind of wins are hard to come by.”

DADDY’S BOY

Caroline’s 3-month-old son, J.C., watched the game wearing a Nevada bib and then got his diaper changed on the seat afterward.

COMING HOME

The game was a homecoming for Dixon, who was born in Burbank and whose parents still live in his childhood home in North Hollywood. It was his first time as a head coach in Los Angeles. He had several high school friends on hand, along with his sister.

BIG PICTURE

After setting a school record with an 8-0 start, Nevada has lost two in a row, both to Big 12 schools away from home. The first defeat was in overtime.

TCU has defeated four straight opponents as a ranked team for the first time since winning five in a row during the 1997-98 season.

UP NEXT

Nevada: Hosts Radford in the opening round of the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 17.

TCU: Hosts Texas Southern on Monday in the first of three straight home games.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Young’s 29 points lead Oklahoma past No. 25 USC 85-83

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The first month of Trae Young’s college basketball career has been one superlative after another.

The freshman guard had 29 points and nine assists to help Oklahoma edge No. 25 Southern California 85-83 on Friday night in the Hall of Fame Basketball Classic tripleheader.

Young, a freshman who leads the nation in scoring, topped 28 points for the sixth straight game. He ended last month averaging 28.8 points, 8.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

December is getting off to a similar start.

”Trae brings a skill that not a lot of people have,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. ”The players appreciate and recognize that and do a good job of playing off of him. You can run a lot of different things with the ball in Trey’s hands.”

Christian James added 19 points, tying his career-high with five 3-pointers, and Brady Manek had 15 points for the Sooners (7-1), who won their fifth in a row.

”It makes it a lot easier when your teammates are as good as mine,” Young said. ”When they’re able to knock down shots and make plays on their own it makes it a lot easier on me. The last 5 minutes of the game I feel like is on me. We had a pretty big lead that I let the other team get back in the game.”

Elijah Stewart led five players in double figures with 23 points for the Trojans (4-3), who never led in losing their third straight. Chimezie Metu had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

After trailing by 18 early in the second half, the Trojans made things interesting in the final minute when the Sooners faltered at the free throw line.

Oklahoma missed its last four free throw attempts, including two by Young.

”I know that we’re in the Staples Center,” Young said. ”I was trying to knock them down like Kobe does.”

Jordan McLaughlin, who finished with 20 points and nine assists, scored five in a row to get the Trojans to 85-83. But his potential game-winning 3-point attempt from midcourt missed at the buzzer.

”We fight all the way to the end,” Stewart said. ”We had a good look going at the end. Half-court shots are always tough to make. It was right there for us, we just fell short.”

Oklahoma made 15 3-pointers, tying its season high set against Ball State. The Sooners began both halves with a barrage of 3s. Five of their first six baskets to start the second half were from long range and that helped them extend their lead to 65-50.

The Sooners came out firing, hitting three quick 3-pointers to start the game. They kept it up and moved out to a 20-10 lead, making 3-pointers on six of their first seven baskets.

USC closed within two before Oklahoma pushed its lead to 13 points. Young scored seven of the Sooners’ last nine points of the half to send them into the break leading 48-36.

YOUNG’S FUTURE

Young alluded to his future plans when he talked about playing well in two NBA arenas: Staples Center and Moda Center in Portland. ”I feel like that’s a good sign,” he said. ”This is definitely a dream come true, to be at the highest level. Playing at Staples Center is legendary.”

GRIFFIN’S HOUSE

The Sooners were in Staples Center, home to OU alum Blake Griffin of the Clippers. He didn’t attend.

OU VS PAC-12

The Sooners are 4-0 against Pac-12 opponents under Kruger, including 2-0 this season, having beaten Oregon last month. OU improved to 7-5 all-time against the Trojans and 3-3 in games in Los Angeles.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma continues rolling behind its prolific offensive output. The Sooners have scored at least 82 points in all seven of their wins and they came in averaging 94.4 points, second-best in the nation. The win should lift them into the Top 25 next week.

After being ranked No. 10 and winning four straight to open the season, USC is on a downward slide. The loss will drop the Trojans out of the Top 25 with just over two weeks left until they begin Pac-12 play. ”We are where we deserve to be right now,” coach Andy Enfield said. ”We have played well at times and been inconsistent at times.”

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: Plays Wichita State on Dec. 16.

USC: Hosts Santa Clara on Thursday, the start of three straight home games before heading to Hawaii for a Christmas tournament.

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