LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Freshman Bennie Boatright had a career-high 22 points and USC beat No. 20 Wichita State 72-69 in a first-round game Thursday at the AdvoCare Invitational.
Wichita State (2-2) played without senior guard Fred VanVleet, who missed his second consecutive game with ankle and hamstring injuries. He twisted his ankle in the season opener Nov. 13 against Charleston Southern and then was limited by hamstring soreness four days later in a game with Tulsa.
USC (5-0) also got 15 points from Jordan McLaughlin. It’s the Trojans best start since opening the 2000-01 season 8-0.
Ron Baker had 25 points and Markis McDuffie added 14 for Wichita State.
After the Trojans had their lead cut to one, Boatwright’s 3 from the corner gave USC a 64-60 advantage with 4 1-2 minutes left.
Boatright hit another 3-pointer, and then had a steal before Katin Reinhardt made a 3 to extended the USC advantage to 70-62 late.
Baker hit a three with 3 seconds left during a late surge that pulled the Shockers with 71-69. After Julian Jacobs hit of one of two free throws, Wichita State’s Zach Brown had a potential game-tyng shot from near mid-court hit off the back of the rim.
McDuffie and Baker combined for all the points during a 12-0 run that put Wichita State up 49-43 7 minutes into the second half. Both hit a long-range jumper during the stretch.
USC responded and went up 61-54 with 7 minutes left on 3-pointers by Boatwright and Elijah Stewart.
McLaughlin had 11 points as USC took a 30-29 lead at halftime.
Wichita State had its only lead when McDuffie hit a 3 to make it 29-28 with 1:42 to go in the half.
USC: The last time before Thursday the Trojans beat a Top-25 team was Feb. 27, 2013, an 89-78 victory over than No. 11 Arizona.
Wichita State: Freshman guard Landry Shamet has a foot injury and is also out of the lineup. He averaged 8.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in three games.
USC: Will play No. 23 Wichita State, which beat Alabama 64-45 Thursday, in a Friday semifinal
Wichita State: Plays Alabama Friday in the consolation round.
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