On the possession before Stewart's 3-pointer, Brown stepped out of bounds in the corner.
Jo Lual-Acuil scored 16 points and Johnathan Motley added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears (26-7), who were upset in the first round by Georgia State and Yale the previous two years. SMU led for nearly 36 minutes but couldn't pull away.
SMU only used six players, and its bench did not score.
"Eight points at halftime is nothing to us", USC coach Andy Enfield told Dana Jacobson on TruTV (h/t Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register). The key piece for the Trojans is sophomore Bennie Boatwright. But the pass was deflected and landed out of bounds. Boatwright countered it with a 3-pointer to give USC a 63-62, only to have Milton counter him. Chimezie Metu was fouled after the inbound pass but he too missed, giving SMU a final chance. "But what was shaping up to be one of the most boring opening rounds ever received some much-needed surprise when University of Southern California upset SMU on Friday afternoon, knocking out what the computer power ratings considered one of the tournament's most tempting dark-horse picks".
The 11th-seeded Trojans were on their way to become yet another team to start in the First Four and win a game in the first round.
Moments later, after SMU answered, USC guard Elijah Stewart sunk a trey that put the Trojans ahead 66-65 with 36 seconds left.
If the regular season is meant to serve as preparation for the postseason, then what USC has done is proof that its process-as unusual as it may be-may be worth putting faith in.
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"They're long, athletic", Enfield said.
A team from the First Four has made the second round in all seven years of existence. "A lot of people will tell you, you had a great season, this and that".
That is an open-ended question.
A win over Baylor would put the Trojans in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007. "Right now, that's enough".
No. 11 USC trailed SMU by eight points at halftime and was down 10 with less than 12 minutes to go, only to mount a furious rally. What followed was a 15-game stretch in which it lost eight times, including four straight in February that turned what seemed like a surefire second consecutive NCAA tournament bid into major uncertainty. The USC Trojans are averaging 78.2 points on 45.3 percent shooting and allowing 72.9 points on 43.2 percent shooting. "... I felt like I maybe could have gotten a little more lift on it. But we noticed we could probably defend them better in zone than man, so we stayed with it and it kept working".
Apparently, they don't know how to quit.
"I just tried to make a play", Milton said in a somber locker room. "We've been in those positions before".