GAME NOTES: The Stanford Cardinal aim to get back in the win column Saturday playing host to the USC Trojans in a Pac-10 Conference battle from Maples Pavilion. Stanford lost its second game in a row on the heels of a two-game win streak in falling to UCLA at home Thursday, 69-65. The Bruins built a 16-point lead in the second half on the strength of a 9-for-17 performance on three-point shooting, then held on by draining 16-of-25 at the charity stripe. Stanford made just 8-of-14 from the foul line and wasted a career-high 27 points from Jeremy Green in the setback. Anthony Brown added 15 points.
USC won for the second time in three games with a tough, 78-75, road win at California Thursday as freshman Maurice Jones poured in all of his team-high 22 points in the second half in his first game coming off the bench this season. The Trojans shot 51.9 percent in the second half and needed all of their 45 points as Cal buried 57.6 percent of its shots to rack up 53 second- half points. Nikola Vucevic logged a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Alex Stepheson posted 10 points and 11 boards. USC shot 47.4 percent overall and sank 16-of-26 at the foul line to hold on for the win.
USC leads the all-time series by just a 120-118 count. The Trojans logged a 65-42 win in Los Angeles on January 20, their sixth win in the last 10 meetings with the Cardinal. USC’s last road victory in the series came back on February 21, 2002, with the season series having resulted in a split each of the last five years.
The Trojans look to a number of sources for their scoring, placing three players in double-digit scoring. Vucevic leads the charge at 17.0 points per game and a stout 10.1 rebounds per contest while shooting 49.8 percent from the floor. Jones checks in at 10.2 points with a team-best 58 steals and Donte Smith averages 10.1 with a team-leading 58 three-pointers on 36.9 percent shooting. Providing solid complimentary minutes are Jio Fontan and Stepheson, who post 9.9 and 9.5 points per game. Stepheson adds a solid 8.9 rebounds to stand second to Vucevic and shoots 54.5 percent from the floor. Overall, USC puts up 66.9 points per game and connects on 44.2 percent of its field goals. The defense is a strong point, as the Trojans let up just 63.4 points to competitors and a 41.5 shooting percentage. The Trojans also hold a slight edge on the boards to the tune of a 34.1-32.8 average differential.
The Cardinal have leveled off since a surprising 10-5 start to the season but still have enough talent to hang with most Pac-10 clubs. Stanford’s defense has relented a bit as well after a rousing start but still holds teams to 63.4 points per game and 42.5 percent shooting from the floor. The offense doesn’t dazzle but gets the job done with 65.5 points per game and a 42.6 shooting percentage. Green is the team’s leading scorer at 16.1 points per game and knocks down 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts with 69 on the year. Josh Owens puts forth a solid 11.4 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds to bolster a plus-1.8 margin on the glass (34.2-32.4). Dwight Powell contributes on most nights as well, averaging 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, while Brown kicks in 8.2 ppg for added depth.
Both teams have been fighting a bit of inconsistent play for the majority of the conference schedule, but USC often gets by with its superior depth in scoring. If the defense shows up Saturday and Jones continues to respond to his demotion, the Trojans should be able to post another tough road win with Stanford’s noted struggles.
GAME NOTES: The Stanford Cardinal aim to get back in the win column Saturday playing host to the USC Trojans in a Pac-10 Conference battle from Maples Pavilion.
FACTS & STATS: Maples Pavilion (7,329) — Stanford, California. Television: CSN-BAY. Home Record: USC 10-4, Stanford 10-4. Away Record: USC 3-7, Stanford 2-6. Neutral Record: USC 1-1, Stanford 1-2. Conference Record: USC 6-7, Stanford 6-8. Series Record: USC leads, 120-118.
Saturday, February 19th, 10:30 p.m. (et)
USC 66, Stanford 64