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Updated: Sunday, December 8, 2002 2:57 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(15) Missouri 78, USC 72
MISSOURI TIGERS
Missouri Tigers
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USC TROJANS
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ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Freshman Jimmy McKinney is showing why he was so highly recruited.

McKinney sparked a second-half rally with a pair of 3-pointers and Arthur Johnson scored 26 points as the 15th-ranked Tigers posted a 78-72 victory over Southern California in the John Wooden Classic.

Missouri (4-0) rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half, thanks to McKinney. The 6-3 guard missed parts of practice and the season opener due to a fractured frontal sinus but has quickly made an impact.

"I just keep focused," McKinney said. "Just take what they give me. I just saw the shot, it's going in with confidence."

McKinney's 3-pointer with 14:22 left triggered a 12-2 run that cut the deficit to 56-54. Baskets by Desmon Farmer and Kostas Charissis restored a six-point cushion for USC (2-3).

Another 3-pointer by McKinney began a 13-3 run as the Tigers established a 67-63 advantage with just over six minutes to go. Johnson scored on a pair of follow shots and Rickey Paulding's 3-pointer capped the burst.

"This was a great game for McKinney," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "He made some good plays that turned it around for us."

Paulding's 3-pointer with 4:14 to go gave Missouri the lead for good at 70-69, and McKinney added a jumper 30 seconds later. The Tigers made 5-of-6 foul shots in the final 1:19 to seal the victory.

Johnson was dominant inside as he made 8-of-14 shots and led all players with 12 rebounds. he was the catalyst for Missouri in getting Charissis and USC reserve Jonathan Oliver to foul out.

"We had to (take) it up strong," Johnson said. "My teammates have stayed on me to keep it up."

"They got the basketball inside and we know that's what they're going to do," Trojans coach Henry Bibby said.

McKinney scored 12 points off the bench in his bid to unseat Ricky Clemons as the starting point guard. Clemons finished with 16 points and six assists.

"I'm always thinking of the team," McKinney said. "I don't think about myself. We know we can come from behind on the road."

Johnson scored 16 points in the first half but Missouri shot just 35.5 percent (11-of-31). The Tigers opened up a 12-4 lead on a dunk by Johnson before the Trojans battled back and took a 39-34 lead at halftime.

USC has led at halftime in every game this year, but has faltered in the second half as it gets used to replacing a pair of starters in David Bluthenthal and Sam Clancy.

"We have to play together and we had a chance to win," Bibby said. "We're trying to find where we are."

The Trojans continued to build their lead as twins Derrick and Errick Craven did all the scoring in an 8-2 run for a 51-40 cushion with 15:41 remaining.

"This is what we needed (the deficit)," Snyder said. "We had guys that could carry us and we had different guys carry us at different times."

Farmer led USC with 16 points and fellow reserve Oliver fouled out with 11. Roydell Smiley was the only Trojan starter in double figures with 10 points as the Cravens combined to make just 5-of-16 shots for 17 points.

"Our defense needs to improve," Derrick Craven said. "We didn't disguise our defenses and it affects us a lot."

Missouri improved to 7-11 in games played in California.


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