LOS ANGELES — Jordan McLaughlin really didn’t mind seeing No. 24 Southern California pushed to the limit by a big underdog.
McLaughlin scored 19 points, including a go-ahead floater in the lane with 48 seconds left, and USC remained undefeated with an 82-77 comeback victory over Troy on Saturday night.
“This was good for our young guys to get a game like this with conference coming up,” McLaughlin said. “It will help us mature.”
Southern California (10-0) has its best start since going 16-0 to open the 1971 season. It remains one of two undefeated Pac-12 schools, along with UCLA, which beat Ohio State on Saturday to improve to 12-0.
With the shot clock winding down in the final minute, McLaughlin drove into the lane, created separation and put a soft shot over two defenders to give USC the lead for good.
“Down the stretch, I feel like nine times out of 10 I’ll make the right play,” McLaughlin said. “Coach has always had confidence in me. That’s why I came here.”
USC coach Andy Enfield said McLaughlin’s go-ahead basket was a perfect example of the maturity he’s developed over the past two-plus seasons.
“Jordan is playing at such a high level for us,” Enfield said. “This year, he’s taken it to another level. The last three, four weeks, he’s playing as good as any point guard in the nation. That’s why we’re 10-0. It all starts with him.”
Chimezie Metu added 18 points and eight rebounds, Elijah Stewart had 11 points and Nick Rakocevic 10.
“We came out slow,” Metu said. “But we picked up our defensive intensity down the stretch and got some stops.”
Wesley Person had 19 points to lead Troy (6-5). Jordan Vonardo added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Kevin Baker had 15 points. It has won three straight
After a pair of USC blocks and a Troy turnover, McLaughlin added two free throws with 13 seconds left. De’Anthony Felton added a free throw with 3 seconds left for the final margin.
“For us to be 10-0 with our lack of experience, to be without Bennie Boatwright, I’m so proud of our players,” Enfield said. “We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve still got a lot of things to improve. It’s a long season and there will be games like this.”
Trailing most of the way and by as many as 10 points, Southern California took a 70-68 lead on Stewart’s 3-pointer with 4:58 to play.
Metu hit a jumper in the lane and then made one of two free throws to pull USC even at 77 after Jeremy Hollimon’s three-pointer with 1:16 left had given Troy a 77-74 lead.
Up 40-38 at half, Troy reeled off a 10-2 spurt, opening its biggest lead 50-40 on a free throw by DeVon Walker with 16:45 to play. Troy led 60-51 on Walker’s layup with 12:35 to play.
Troy: Person is the son of former NBA player Wesley Person and nephew of former NBA player Chuck Person. The Trojans lost for the first time this season after leading at halftime. Saturday night’s game marked the first time the Trojans played a Top 25 team since playing at No. 17 Mississippi State on Dec. 10, 2011.
Southern California: This was the first time this season the Trojans trailed at half. USC won its 17th consecutive nonconference game at the Galen Center. Seven of their 10 wins this season have come on their home floor. USC played its third straight game without sophomore forward Boatwright, expected to be out six weeks with a sprained left knee injured on Nov. 30 against San Diego.
Troy: At Wyoming on Monday night.
Southern California: Host Cornell on Monday night.