LOS ANGELES — Nikola Jovanovic tied his career high with 23 points to lead four players in double figures and Southern California edged Utah State 89-84 on Sunday afternoon for its fourth consecutive victory.
The Trojans (6-3) shot a season-best 50 percent from the field (31 of 62) including 12 of 26 from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-11 Jovanovic was 9 of 11 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers, and was the first USC player to reach 20 points in a game this season. Freshman Jordan McLaughlin added a career-high 21 points, making five 3-pointers, Strahinja Gavrilovic scored 13 points off the bench and Katin Reinhardt scored 11.
Redshirt freshman forward David Collette set career-highs with 32 points and 14 rebounds for his first career double-double to lead the Aggies (3-4). Jalen Moore scored 18 points and Julion Pearre added 15 for Utah State, which dropped its fourth straight.
Both teams came out firing in an 81-point first half. Collette hit his first eight field goals and tied his previous career-high in rebounds in the opening half alone to help Utah State take a slim 41-40 lead into the locker room. The Trojans hit eight 3-pointers in the first half, including four by McLaughlin.
It remained close throughout the second half.
With the game tied 60-60 with 10:54 to go Gavrilovic exploded for seven consecutive points to start an 11-2 Trojans run, but the Aggies fought back to tie it at 76 with just under four minutes to play.
Jovanovic took over at that point, nailing a the tiebreaking 3-pointer from the top of the key and adding a pair of layups and in a 11-5 USC run to make it 87-81 Trojans with under a minute to go, and USC held on from there despite missing six of its final eight free throws.
Utah State: The Aggies are now 0-4 when leading at halftime this season. They are 3-0 when trailing at the half.David Collette's previous career-highs were 22 points and six rebounds.The 84 points were the most Utah State has scored this season, but the 89 points allowed were also a season-high.
USC: Nikola Jovanovic entered as the only player on the Trojans roster who had scored 20 points in a game in his career. He previously did it against Cal on Jan. 22, 2014, when he scored 23.The Trojans' previous season-high for 3-pointers in a game was nine, accomplished against Loyola Marymount Dec. 3.Jordan McLaughlin's previous career-high for 3-pointers in a game was two, accomplished four times.
Utah State: Visits Utah Valley on Dec. 13.
USC: Hosts Army on Dec. 13.