LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonah Mathews scored 15 points, Nick Rakocevic added 14 and Southern California rallied in the second half on Saturday night to defeat LSU 70-68 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center.
Mathews’ 3-pointer with 4:22 remaining put the Trojans ahead for good and was part of a 13-2 spurt where they seized control. McKay Anderson hit a pair of 3-pointers, including one with 3:09 remaining to extend USC’s advantage to 66-59.
LSU made one final run and got within a basket on a couple occasions. Mathews missed a free throw with 3 seconds remaining but Javonte Smart’s jumper was blocked by Onyeka Okongwu at the buzzer.
Anderson scored 11 points while Daniel Utomi and Okongwu added 10 apiece. The Trojans (10-2) were 11 of 31 on 3-pointers, marking the third game this season they have made 10 or more.
Skylar Mays led LSU (7-4) with 21 points. Trendon Watford added 17 and and 10 rebounds and Darious Days had 12 points and 11 boards.
The Tigers were up 50-43 with 11:20 remaining when the Trojans went on a 7-2 run to close within a basket. USC though wasn’t able to make key shots and take the lead until 4:51 remaining when Rakocevic made a pair of free throws.
LSU jumped out to an 13-6 lead before Kyle Sturdivant scored eight points during an 18-7 run to put the Trojans up 24-20 with 7:19 remaining. The game was tied at 28 when the Tigers scored the last seven points of the first half.
LSU: The Tigers have dropped two straight. They had a 42-22 advantage in points in the paint but were unable to defend USC’s 3-point shooting.
USC: The Trojans have won four straight with two coming against Power Five teams. They won at TCU on Dec. 6.
LSU: Host Liberty on Dec. 29.
USC: Host Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 29.
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