USC overcomes NCAA snub, Chimezie Metu absence in double-OT NIT win over UNC-Asheville

From the moment its logo didn’t show up on screen during the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday, USC has looked and sounded like a team that had zero interest in playing in a consolation event like the NIT.

Coach Andy Enfield made as much clear with his comments in the interim, then junior forward Chimezie Metu’s decision to skip the game in order to protect his NBA draft stock furthered the appearance the Trojans weren’t too thrilled about playing a game at home on Tuesday while the NCAA tourney was beginning across the country in Ohio.

Yet when the final buzzer sounded at Galen Center, four quarters and two overtimes later, USC had the look of a squad that at some point decided to put aside its grievances and show it was still a winner. The Trojans rallied on numerous times during the second half as well as both OTs in a 103-98 victory over UNC-Asheville.

USC (24-11) got 26 points and 13 assists from senior guard Jordan McLaughlin, who forced the second OT with a stepback three-pointer and scored the go-ahead basket with 36 seconds left, as well as a career-best performance from junior forward Nick Rakocevic 24 points and 19 rebounds.

Rakocevic filled the void left by the absence of Metu, USC’s leading scorer and rebounder. Freshman Jordan Usher started in his place and had 13 points with 3 three-pointers and senior guard Elijah Stewart added 22 points.

Stewart scored the Trojans’ final seven points, making all five free throws as USC was just 12 of 23 from the foul line.

The top seed in their eight-team quadrant of the 32-team NIT bracket, USC will host No. 4 Western Kentucky on Monday.

The post USC overcomes NCAA snub, Chimezie Metu absence in double-OT NIT win over UNC-Asheville appeared first on Diehards.

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