USC moves on to SMU rematch after First Four win

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A 17-point deficit wasn’t enough to keep USC from moving on from Dayton to Tulsa.

The Trojans erased a big deficit to dispatch Providence, 75-71, on Wednesday night to set up a first-round matchup Friday against sixth-seeded SMU.

USC looked to be in serious trouble after the early lead it built in the first half quickly evaporated and then became a 17-point deficit before halftime finally ended their misery. The Trojans shot just 34.5 percent in the first half while allowing the Friars to light it up at 54.6 percent overall while making 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) from 3-point range.

By halftime, it looked like Ed Cooley would be preparing a gameplan for the Mustangs before too long.

It took 13 minutes for everything to flip.

Suddenly, the Trojans found their groove and the Friars fell off the track. Providence had coughed up their 17-point lead before the 6-minute mark of the second half. They would never get it back.

Bennie Boatwright scored 24 points to lead the Trojans while Jordan McLaughlin added 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Emmitt Holt had 18 points while Rodney Bullock and Jalen Lindsey both had 17 points for Providence, which shot 1 of 5 from 3-point range in the second half after going 8 of 15 in the first half.

Now, the Trojans head to Oklahoma to face a higher seed that they’ve already beaten this season. USC defeated SMU 78-73 in November. USC shot 50 percent on 24 3-point attempts that day while also blocking eight Mustang shots.