March 22, 2017

USC to play Providence in NCAA basketball tournament game Wednesday

20 March 2017, 04:28 | Rodolfo Wallace

Geoff Burke | USA TODAY Sports USC and Providence will meet in a rematch of last year's last-second first round battle

USC and Providence will meet in a rematch of last year's last-second first round battle

Providence (20-13) took a 44-29 lead on the strength of a 15-0 run punctuated by two 3-pointers by Bullock and another from Lindsey, who had 15 points in the first half.

USC and SMU tip off in Tulsa, Okla. on Friday at 12:10 p.m.

The Friars lost a quarterfinal round game at the Big East Tournament to Creighton by the margin of 12 points - missing on 12 free throws.

"We had guys, mentally they just weren't there", North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton said.

"I feel like I'm a confident player, and I got it going early", Moneke said.

The Friars are called "the hottest team you haven't heard about lately", according to CBS Sports, as Providence won their last six-regular season games.

Providence is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games as an underdog.

USC pulled away in the last four minutes of the second half.

USC chipped away at the deficit to open the second half.

PC went down 7-0 after an early timeout from head coach Ed Cooley before getting on the board courtesy of an Emmitt Holt layup. "We thought we deserved to be". No, we earned our way into the tournament. "So, we're going to take ourselves home and brush ourselves off and look forward to next season".

When the teams met in the first round last March, the Trojans were ahead by seven points in the closing minutes and still led by one with three seconds left.

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The Friars were particularly efficient before the break, averaging 1.4 points per possession in the first half.

Freshman guard Jordan Mathews made a 3-pointer, was fouled and hit the free throw. Jalen Lindsey scored 15 for the Friars, hitting four of his seven 3-point attempts.

"They scored against our zone. We weren't talking", Enfield said. "And it's just a matter of us just bringing the energy and knocking down shots and just competing all the way to the end".

Boatwright had 14 first-half points for USC, which did not record a field goal in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first half. The Friars are capable of holding their own on offense and are a much better team defensively than the Trojans.

The Trojans started the season by winning their first 14 games and were 21-4 a week into February before dropping four straight games, three of which were to #5 OR, #6 UCLA and #4 Arizona. "We weren't playing with the same passion we were in the first half, and it showed". Bullock and Lindsey each finished the night with 17 points.

Metu's dunk off an assist from Boatwright pushed the Trojans' advantage to 67-62 with 3:38 left, and Providence couldn't mount a rally.

"Big. Time. Nick was big time for us", Boatwright said, with an emphasis after each word. For our players to adjust to that, that was impressive.

USC coach Andy Enfield credits his new puppy for helping the Trojans make the NCAA Tournament. In the 2012 First Four, BYU rallied from 15 points down to defeat Iona.

Like some of the other great Friar squads of the past, this team ultimately stubbed its' toes in the NCAA's.

USC was eliminated by UCLA in their conference tournament.

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