Trojans Can't Hang On Against No. 15 Missouri

Dec 7, 2002

AP Sports Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. - After blowing out their first three opponents, the No. 15 Missouri Tigers found out they can survive a close game against a quality team.

Arthur Johnson had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and the Tigers overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Southern California 78-72 Saturday in the John Wooden Classic.

'That showed us if we can come from behind on the road, we're going to be a really tough team to beat,' said Jimmy McKinney, who had 12 points despite rolling his right ankle early in the game. 'Once we got clicking, we knew we could win.'

Having lost offensive stars Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert, the Tigers are discovering they have several options.

'Last year we were a scoring machine,' McKinney said. 'This year we're spreading the ball around the floor.'

Ricky Clemons added 16 points and Rickey Paulding had 12 for the Tigers (4-0), who improved to 7-11 playing in California.

'We beat a really good team,' Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. 'Both teams are trying to find out who they are. We knew we were in for a great game and we got one.'

Georgia defeated California 78-73 in overtime in the first game of the doubleheader at Anaheim Arena that honors Wooden, the 92-year-old former UCLA coach who received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd of 9,889 during the late game.

Missouri has held all four of its opponents to 40 percent or less from the floor. The Trojans shot 33 percent.

'They got the ball inside. Johnson camped in there and he got it where he wanted. He made some easy baskets,' USC coach Henry Bibby said. 'I was very pleased with our effort. We played smart and as a team. We didn't shoot a good percentage, but we got some good looks and I'll take those looks the next game.'

The Trojans (2-3) took the lead into halftime for the fifth consecutive time this season, but they've been outscored 200-171 in the second half of their games.

'The game is on the defensive end,' Bibby said. 'You have to stop them and we didn't do that as the game progressed.'

USC opened the second half with a 12-6 run to take its largest lead, 51-40, with 15:41 remaining. Missouri settled down after committing some of its 18 turnovers against USC's zone and outscored the Trojans 20-9 to tie the game at 60 with nine minutes left. McKinney made two 3-pointers and Josh Kroenke added another in the spurt.

The Trojans had 16 turnovers, but managed nine steals, including four by Roydell Smiley.

Even though they lost their second straight game, the young Trojans learned something, too.

'We're playing together more,' said Desmon Farmer, who led USC with 16 points. 'A lot of people thought we were selfish. We showed we can play together.

Farmer hit a 3-pointer for a 63-60 lead. Then the Tigers scored seven in a row before the Trojans tied the game for the last time at 67 on a putback by Jonathan Oliver with 5:16 left.

Farmer's hook shot gave USC its last lead at 69-67. The Tigers scored six straight, including a 3-pointer by Paulding, for a 73-69 lead. USC made just one field goal in the final 2� minutes.

USC lost 6-foot-11 Kostas Charissis and 7-footer Oliver to foul trouble in the final 9� minutes, leaving the Trojans vulnerable against Missouri's physical frontline players. Oliver finished with 11 points.

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