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USC tops Xavier 84-78 behind Howard

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) - Southern California coach Andy Enfield wanted a time-out. No one noticed.

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And that was a most fortunate break for the Trojans.

Down by five midway through the first half and with a play falling apart, Enfield was shouting and signaling for time, his pleas somehow not getting acknowledged by either his players or the referees. USC wound up scoring on the play to start a huge run that allowed the Trojans to beat Xavier 84-78 on Saturday in the seventh-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Pe'Shon Howard scored 23 points for the Trojans (5-3), who, from the moment that Enfield didn't get the time-out he wanted, scored the next 13 points to start what turned into a 31-11 run over a 12-minute span.

And they needed that cushion, too. USC saw a 23-point lead cut to five in the final four minutes, before escaping.

Byron Wesley scored 15 points, Julian Jacobs scored 14 and Nikola Jovanovic added 12 for USC, which eventually led by as many as 24 in the second half.

Semaj Christon scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half for Xavier (5-3). Myles Davis scored 16, Matt Stainbrook added 14 and Isaiah Philmore scored 10 for the Musketeers.

For a while, it was looking like a USC blowout.

In the final minutes, the Musketeers made things more than a little interesting.

Xavier was down 72-49 after Howard scored with 4:03 left, then ripped off 13 unanswered points in the next 94 seconds to get within 10 on Stainbrook's layup with 2:29 left.

Davis' 3-pointer with 1:18 remaining cut USC's lead to nine, and Christon added another with 20.3 seconds left to get the Musketeers within 83-78. All told, in about 3 1/2 minutes, Xavier outscored the Trojans 29-11.

But Xavier ran out of time, and USC salvaged something from its holiday weekend in the Bahamas.

Philmore scored five quick points as Xavier took a 23-18 lead, and with things not to his liking at that moment, Enfield wanted to talk about things. Play was on the other end of the floor at the time, and even though the makeshift arena inside a ballroom at the Atlantis Resort was relatively quiet, no one figured out what Enfield wanted.

Timing was everything. And three minutes later, when Howard dropped a nifty no-look pass toward the right block and setting up D.J. Haley for a dunk, the Trojans had a 31-23 lead.

Jacobs had a dunk to give USC its first double-digit lead with 1:52 left in the half, and the margin didn't dip below 10 again until the huge late run.

Both teams now get a few days off before getting back on the floor. Xavier does not return to action until Dec. 7 against Bowling Green. USC plays Boston College one day later.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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