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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Southern California (3-2) buried 17 3-pointers and erupted for 32 points in the paint to turn back Missouri State, 99-80, here Tuesday in the third-place game of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.
Bennie Boatwright was 7-for-9 from the field for 22 points to lead the Trojans, while Jonah Matthews added 21 points behind five 3-pointers.
The Bears (3-2) got a career-high 23 points from Ryan Kreklow
, who was 6-for-11 from 3-point range. Jarred Dixon
knocked down five treys and finished with 17 points.
MSU's Keandre Cook
was also a bright spot for Missouri State, pouring in 21 points to make him the first Bear since 2010 to score 20 or more points in four straight games.
A pair of significant runs by USC in the first half set a blistering pace for coach Andy Enfield's team. After a pair of free throws from Cook gave Missouri State an 11-5 lead just under four minutes into the game, USC responded with a 13-0 outburst over the next four minutes to lead 18-11.
The Bears weathered the storm and reeled off six unanswered to get within 18-17 at the 11:17 mark on a trey by Kreklow However, another run by the Pac-12 squad – a 16-0 sequence over a five-minute stretch – doubled up Missouri State, 34-17, and the Bears would get no closer than 13 the rest of the night.
Southern Cal's 17 triples marked a Missouri State opponent record, while the Trojans fired at a 56.9 percent clip overall and out-rebounded the Bears by a 36-31 margin.
For its part, Missouri State weathered the storm of some early USC full-court pressure and finished with just 12 turnovers – only six via Trojan steals. The Bears shot 48.5 percent in the second half and produced 53 points in the second stanza -- the team's most in a half since posting 54 in the first period against Fontbonne in 2016.
The Bears trailed 44-27 at the intermission but utilized 10 second-half treys to minimize the damage in the second period. Over a five-minute stretch midway through the half, the Bears scored exclusively on 3-pointers with Kreklow accounting for three of six bombs in that span.
After trailing by as many as 24, MSU whittled its way back to within 80-67 with 6:02 to play on three straight buckets by Cook. But USC drilled three unanswered treys from there to push its advantage back to 22 and cruised from there.
MSU finished 25-of-62 (.403) from the field, 14-of-32 (.438) from long range and 16-of-21 (.762) at the stripe.
The Bears kick off a three-game road swing Saturday at Murray State (2-0) for a 7 p.m. tipoff at CFSB Arena. The excursion continues at Air Force (Nov. 28) and Oregon State (Dec. 1) before a home matchup with Western Kentucky on Dec. 5 at JQH Arena.