LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California didn't panic when they fell behind in the second half and the Trojans rallied by hitting threes to stay undefeated. Bennie Boatwright scored a season-high 17 points and freshman De'Anthony Melton added a career-high 15 points to lead the Trojans to a 78-73 victory over SMU on Friday night.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California didn't panic when they fell behind in the second half and the Trojans rallied by hitting threes to stay undefeated.
Bennie Boatwright scored a season-high 17 points and freshman De'Anthony Melton added a career-high 15 points to lead the Trojans to a 78-73 victory over SMU on Friday night.
Boatwright made 4-of-7 3-pointers and Jonah Matthews scored 14 points for the Trojans.
"I was out for 2 months and I'm now getting my rhythm back," Boatwright said. "My flow within the offense is picking up and my teammates are making good passes to me. In my first two games, I was pressing and everything was off."
USC (5-0) improved to 5-1 all-time against the Mustangs (4-2) and shot 49.1 percent from the field, including 12 of 24 from beyond the arc.
Melton scored nine points during a 19-4 run — capped by Melton's 3 — that gave USC a 51-41 lead with 10:56 to play.
"I got out there and ran and got open shots and that makes it fun," said Melton, who made 5 of 9 shots, had 6 rebounds and 5 assists. "We (the freshmen) are holding our own and our hard work is paying off. I'm learning and I'm getting stronger."
Boatwright and Melton combined to make 7 of the 12 USC 3-pointers.
SMU cut the score to 74-68 with 1:15 to play following a steal and layup by Shake Milton but would get no closer.
"That was a nice win," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "SMU is a quality team and will probably win 20-plus games. It was a big win for us. The players showed poise when they got behind in the second half. They ramped up the defense and got back in the game. The defense was getting stops using our length. Then we got out in transition and hit some threes."
Ben Moore led SMU with 14 points. Semi Ojeleye added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Milton and Sterling Brown each scored 12.
The Trojans took a 19-14 lead following a 3-pointer by Shaqquan Aaron at the 9:39 mark. The Mustangs battled back and took a 22-21 lead before USC took a 28-27 lead into the break.
"We knew coming in that USC was a strong team offensively with great quickness," SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. "We played a tremendous first half defensively but over the course of the game you could see our opponent hurting us with 3-point shooting. Every single guy is a big threat on USC and you could really see that come alive in the second half."
SMU outrebounded the Trojans 39-35 and outscored USC in the paint 38-24.
SMU: With five players averaging double figures and the Mustangs having led the American Athletic Conference in shooting percentage for the last 3 seasons, SMU figures to finish higher in conference than middle of the pack as predicted.
USC: USC has four starters averaging in double figures and its four freshmen are contributing. For the second consecutive season, the Trojans open the season at 5-0. The Trojans are one of four Pac-12 teams still undefeated.
De'MAN OF STEAL: Melton had five steals in a win against New Orleans on Nov. 22 and leads the Pac-12 with 14 steals. His 3.3 steals per game seventh in the country.
QUICK COMPARE: Entering Friday's game, both USC and SMU were leading their respective conferences — Pac-12 and American Athletic — in offensive rebounding. The Trojans average 15.8 per game and SMU is averaging 14.6.
SMU: The Mustangs continue their two-game road trip at Boise State before returning home to open a six-game home stand.
USC: The Trojans wrap up their six-game home stand against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.