It's finals week at USC and by the way the Trojans are acting, they're looking for a little extra credit for some extra time put in.
For the third consecutive game, USC played to overtime, beating Cal State Fullerton, 96-90, in front of 2,463 at the Sports Arena on Tuesday night.
USC (3-2) trailed Fullerton (2-4) by 11 points, 52-41, early in the second half and was down by five, 78-73, with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
Junior power forward Jeff McMillan led the Trojans with 22 points and eight rebounds. Freshman point guard Bobby Brown had a career-high 27 points for the Titans.
USC Coach Henry Bibby said his team's white-knuckle victories over Cal State Northridge and St. Mary's, as well as the overtime loss to Nevada Las Vegas, helped the Trojans pull out another nail-biter.
"We've been down but we fight back," Bibby said. "These teams that we're playing, they're not slouches. These are good teams and they're making shots."
Fullerton shot 53.2% from the field, compared with the Trojans' 48.5% rate, and the Titans out-rebounded the Trojans, 36-30, and made a school-record 14 three-pointers.
But when it came to clutch shots, USC won in that department and that's why the Trojans have a winning record for the first time since Feb. 9, when they were 10-9 after beating UNLV.
The first clutch shot by a Trojan came from senior guard Desmon Farmer, who did not start because of a disagreement with Bibby in practice on Monday. Freshman Lodrick Stewart started in his place.
Farmer's three-pointer from the top of the arc with 56.1 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score at 78-78 and sent the game into overtime.
"That's what he can do," Bibby said of Farmer. "We want the ball in his hands."
Both agreed that Farmer handled his benching better than any time before.
"It happens," said Farmer, who finished with 18 points though he was just two of 11 from the field (he made a career-high 12 of 13 free throws) in 30 minutes.
"It's over and we roll with it. We got the victory and I was still able to produce, a little bit."
Fullerton played nearly a full game of 2-3 zone defense, which bothered the Trojans at times.
"They were taking away the drive from me so I had to settle for the jumpers," Farmer added. "Bibby told me to keep shooting."
USC's second big shot came courtesy of another non-starter, junior point guard Derrick Craven.
After Brown tied the score at 83-83 with 2:29 remaining in overtime, Craven calmly drained a three-pointer from the left wing 16 seconds later and the Trojans never looked back, making 11 of 12 free throws in the extra period.
Fullerton was also hurt by its two big men -- Pape Sow, who was held to nine points, and Babacar Camara -- fouling out.
"We just didn't execute on offense all night," said first-year Titan Coach Bob Burton.
"Their half-court trap defense totally changed the game. It prevented us from going to our fastbreak and we had to play a half-court offense. I hadn't prepared our team for that enough."
The Trojans, though, were prepared by their early-season run of tight games.
"Once we got to overtime, everybody relaxed," Derrick Craven said.
"We need to blow some team out. I'm tired of these close games."