No. 2 Stanford Sinks USC 77-67
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Chris Hernandez is used to hearing about Stanford'sreputation for being nice guys who are soft. And he's growing sick of it.
Hernandez had 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and No. 2 Stanfordstayed unbeaten by pulling away from Southern California for a 77-67 victorySaturday night.
'We have to show we're not going to get pushed around and try to changethis attitude people have about us,' said Hernandez, Stanford's hard-nosedsophomore point guard.
Nick Robinson matched his career high by scoring all 13 of his points in thesecond half as the Cardinal (16-0, 7-0 Pac-10) received their biggest test yetat home, where a sellout crowd of 7,391 rocked Maples Pavilion from the openingtip. Robinson was 6-for-6 in the second half.
Desmon Farmer had 19 points, three assists and three steals for USC (8-9,3-5), which lost its third straight game and has won at Maples only twice since1992. Farmer was held to six points in the second half - a 3-pointer and threefree throws.
Stanford ran into an inspired and physical Trojans team that was coming offa one-point loss at California on Thursday. USC played stingy man-to-mandefense, rarely allowing the Cardinal to take an uncontested shot.
'We should have won this game,' USC forward Nick Curtis said. 'We hadthem in the first half and we lost our composure in the second half. They got alot of easy open shots we shouldn't have let them have. Their bench wascrucial.'
Hernandez scored five straight points late in the game, including a3-pointer that banked in just before the shot clock expired. Hernandez laterjoked that he's been working on those in practice.
Stanford is one of two undefeated Division I teams left in the country alongwith third-ranked Saint Joseph's, a 114-63 winner over St. Bonaventure onSaturday.
'I thought being down at the half didn't hurt us,' coach Mike Montgomerysaid. 'Obviously, we're not pleased. Are you going to keep your poise and howare you going to react to being behind? Are you going to right yourself andmake some plays? I think we did that. All that stuff I think is going to helpyou.
'It's not about being undefeated. We're trying in our conference to getsome separation if we can. That's really our only goal right now,' he said.
After Errick Craven gave USC a 47-46 lead with 10:51 left, Hernandez hit a3-pointer to start a 10-1 Stanford run that gave the Cardinal a 56-48 lead with8:47 remaining.
Trojans coach Henry Bibby, whistled for a technical in the first half,dropped to 5-12 against Stanford, though USC has beaten the Cardinal in thePac-10 tournament the past two seasons.
'Forty-nine points (in the second half) is too much for us to give up andwin a basketball game,' Bibby said. 'We left Hernandez open a few times. Wecan't do that.'
Stanford's Josh Childress, a preseason All-America candidate, made hissecond start of the season following a foot injury that sidelined him for thefirst nine games. The 6-foot-8 forward had 11 points, seven rebounds, threeassists, a block and a steal in 26 minutes.
Stanford made silly mistakes in a sloppy first half and trailed 34-28 athalftime - just the second time this season the Cardinal have been behind atthe break. Rice led 28-22 at halftime on Nov. 30, but Stanford won 60-56.
Matt Haryasz gave Stanford a big lift off the bench in the first half,making two straight jump shots with a defensive rebound in between. Duringanother spurt, he had three blocked shots, a steal and hit the floor hard tocontrol a loose ball. He finished with eight points and five rebounds.