Stanford Knocks Off USC, 73-67

Feb 20, 2003

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - Usually strong Stanford seemed in trouble this season, what with Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt leaving school early for the NBA and Keyo Johnson declaring for the NFL draft.

Instead, it's the Cardinal's opponents who have suffered.

Justin Davis had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Julius Barnes added 16 points and five assists Thursday night as No. 21 Stanford beat Southern California 73-67 for its ninth straight 20-win season.

Even Mike Montgomery, in his 17th season as the Cardinal's coach, admitted he didn't expect this kind of success.

'Come on, picked seventh, man,' he said, referring to the preseason Pac-10 media poll. 'These guys are incredible, they just keep trucking on. And the good news is, they can play better.

'I had no idea these guys would be this cohesive, play together like they have. It's been really gratifying. They just have a knack, they don't give up on themselves.'

The win was the fourth straight and eighth in nine games for the Cardinal (20-6, 11-3 Pac-10), but they were hard-pressed to beat a team that lost at Arizona State and No. 1 Arizona by a combined 57 points last weekend.

'We played hard against a nationally ranked team and took it to the last minute,' USC coach Henry Bibby said. 'We had a chance to win. A couple baskets here and there and we win. We took some giant steps.'

Not at the free-throw line, where the Trojans went 5-of-12 and missed their final four in the last 6� minutes including the front half in two one-and-one situations.

Stanford won by outscoring USC 10-2 in the final 3� minutes, starting with a three-point play by Davis that put the Cardinal on top 66-65.

A 3-point shot by Matt Lottich with 2:55 left extended Stanford's lead to four points. USC's Rory O'Neil scored 25 seconds later to make it 69-67.

Both teams missed several scoring opportunities before USC's Desmon Farmer drew an offensive foul with 46.5 seconds to play. Nick Robinson made two free throws 19 seconds later to put Stanford up 71-67.

Errick Craven missed a 3-pointer and Stanford got the ball to Davis, who dunked with 7.8 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.

Lottich added 12 points on four 3-pointers. Josh Childress was held to six points but had 12 rebounds for the Cardinal.

'They had us down, we could have caved in, but we didn't,' Davis said. 'I think a lot of it has to do with our willpower.'

While many might be surprised by Stanford's success, Davis isn't.

'From the summer working out together, we knew we had a chance to have a good season,' he said. 'We worked exceptionally hard and took the approach of being a team.'

Farmer had 24 points and six rebounds to lead the Trojans (10-12, 5-8). Craven added 14 points and seven rebounds; O'Neil had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Gregg Guenther had 10 points and 11 rebounds for USC.

'It's hard, we just didn't pull it out,' Farmer said. 'It's frustrating to lose like that. But we're going to surprise some people in the Pac-10 tournament, definitely.'

Craven scored five points during a 7-0 run that gave the Trojans a 53-50 lead midway through the second half, and two free throws by Farmer with 6:51 left put USC on top 61-56.

But a dunk by Davis and a 3-pointer by Barnes tied it at 61 with 5:18 remaining. Neither team led by more than two points after that until Stanford's strong finish.

Averaging 10.2 points, Davis scored nine in the first 7� minutes before baskets by O'Neil and Craven gave the Trojans a 20-14 lead.

That turned out to equal the largest lead of the game for either team.

It was 38-all at halftime. Averaging 17.8 points, Farmer had 14 in the opening 20 minutes.

The Trojans played without Roy Smiley, who has a sprained right knee. USC's fourth-leading scorer with an 8.7-point average, Smiley might return Saturday night against No. 18 California.

Stanford goes for its sixth straight win over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion earlier Saturday. The Cardinal haven't lost to the Bruins in Los Angeles since the 1996-97 season.

Stanford has won five of its last six games over USC at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.Arena.

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