Southern California rallies back to knock SMU out of NCAA tournament

Southern California rallies back to knock SMU out of NCAA tournament

Southern California rallies back to knock SMU out of NCAA tournament

If going by seeding, USC is only the third upset of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. USC did the same in a thriller against SMU on Friday.

But the Mustangs' time in the NCAA tournament lasted a mere two hours, and ended at the hands of a familiar opponent.

The Trojans continued their run of improbable wins this season, beating sixth-seeded Southern Methodist University 66-65 in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament today in Tulsa, Okla. SMU lost for the first time since January 12. SMU won the American Athletic Conference regular season and postseason titles.

Elijah Stewart, open in the corner on a pick-and-roll based play for what felt like the millionth time, gave USC the lead for good on a 3-pointer from the corner with 36 seconds left. USC won by going on a 25-15 run in the last 12:04. Otherwise, the Trojans have struggled against teams like Baylor in the top-25 - two losses to UCLA, two losses to Arizona and two losses to Oregon. They have won six straight - five since a frightening plane mishap on the way to last week's Big Ten Tournament. The Mustangs led most of the game, taking double digit leads in each half, only to succumb to Southern California's zone defense. The Aggies (28-6) made 6 of 14 3-pointers to lead 40-38 at halftime.

Semi Ojeleye put his team in an opportunity to win it.

But Milton couldn't erase the second one.

The ball hit the rim and bounced up. The possession before, Ben Moore missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Ojeleye did all he could to put off this decision for at least another game. USC answered with its own three after that.

Stewart led USC with 22 points.

But Baylor (26-7) likely won't be thinking of USC (26-9) as a double-digit seed. Chimezie Metu also scored 14.

SMU didn't score in the final 1:33 after Milton's 3-pointer. The Baylor Bears are averaging 73.3 points on 47.5 percent shooting and allowing 63 points on 39.9 percent shooting.

It looked like that streak might end Friday after Oklahoma State opened the second half on a 12-5 run to take a 52-46 lead.

Down a point with 11 seconds left, SMU coach Tim Jankovich opted against using one of his timeouts. As New Mexico State proved in the first half of Friday's game, a good 3-point shooting team is a threat to beat Baylor's zone defense. Brown, often matched up with tough perimeter defender Melton, scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.

USC used the momentum from its win over Providence and kept rolling against SMU, though it took a winning flourish in the final minutes.

Arkansas 77, Seton Hall 71: Jaylen Barford hit the go-ahead layup with 57.8 seconds left to help Arkansas hold off Seton Hall 77-71 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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