Liveblog: USC 71, Stanford 69 (Final)

The facts: Stanford blew an eight-point halftime lead in their Pac-12 opener to a mediocre USC team, losing 71-69. Still in question: whether Stanford missed more free throws or uncontested dunks and layups? Too soon to tell: whether this moment is the lowlight of the Johnny Dawkins era. We'll see how the boys respond as their Pac-12 season marches on.

USC comes out of the locker room with the hot hand as Stanford isn't making it easy on themselves. Dwayne Dedmon has five, including three from the line, while Rosco Allen misses a pair from the line. Still, Stanford finds success inside this stanza. Dwight Powell starts the Cardinal off in the second half with a layup, and Josh Huestis muscles his way twice to the free throw line, where he converts on three of four attempts. The Cardinal lead is down to five, but USC does have four second-half fouls at the 16-minute media timeout. Dedmon leads the way with four whistles in eight minutes. (True to form, Dwight Powell is holding his own here with three fouls in but seven minutes. Stanford does appear to have more depth inside though.)

Stanford 47, USC 42, 15:53 left

If Stanford can hang on here and then hold home court later this season, they will have won four straight against USC in both football and basketball. (Interestingly, before sweeping the Trojans last year, Stanford had lost 13 straight regular season games in Los Angeles.) A win tonight gives Stanford three straight victories, which would be their longest winning streak since rolling off five straight to claim last year's NIT. On the court, meanwhile, let's just say that we haven't missed too much as we've gone digging for these bits of trivia. Andy Brown and Aaron Bright hit layups to put Stanford back up eight, but then the Cardinal went turnover, defensive foul on Bright, turnover, defensive foul on Bright, Huestis layup blocked all the way back to the free throw line, defensive rebound booted out of bounds. USC, to its credit, can only half the eight-point Stanford lead, missing five shots in the four-minute spurt.

Stanford 51, USC 47, 11:49 left

USC baseline J, missed Powell four-foot hook, yet another USC baseline J and the crowd isn't exactly loud, but it's as loud as it's been all night, as the Trojans have pulled into a tie with an 8-0 spurt of their own. ESPNU reminds us that Johnny Dawkins is 9-27 on the road in the Pac-12, but on the plus side, they roll the footage and did he ever have a wicked crossover at Duke. USC stays in a zone and Aaron Bright plays it smartly, picking up a head of steam in the open court before receiving a pass and drawing a fourth foul on Eric Wise, exposed unmoving in the zone. That's a tough position for Wise to be in. Andy Brown puts the front end of the one-and-one back iron, however, and USC will have yet another chance to take its first lead of the game. Instead, the Stanford zone flusters the Trojans into a travel down low. But then Huestis is again emphatically blocked from point-blank range, and USC gets the transition layup for its first lead of the game. It's a 10-0 USC run over the last six minutes, and Stanford has scored nine points in nearly 12 second-half minutes. Yet Stanford gets two offensive rebounds the next time down the floor and then Bright gets to the line, sinking both looks. Stanford hasn't made a field goal since the 14:59 mark and has missed, per the official stats, four layups and two dunks in the intervening eight minutes. Yet it's 53-all and Stanford has Dwight Powell on the line on the other side of the TV timeout.

Stanford 53, USC 53, 7:42 left

Powell misses both free throws, compounding Brown and Allen's costly misses earlier in the half. USC rattles home a kickout, pull-up J and Powell is again defeated by the rim, missing an uncontested dunk. The teams trade baskets, with Powell bouncing back for a layup. Then Bright gets a steal, draws a whistle and, now in the double bonus, makes both free throws to reknot us at 57 apiece. Stanford is just 12-of-20 from the line, though USC has missed its share at 7-of-13. Huestis answers a second-chance USC floater with an open corner three (the best shot in basketball, the "Moneyball" types say), and then Powell goes through his man for an O-board and layup that could have been an over-the-back call, but then gets whistled for a ticky-tack technical, so call it even, I guess. Wait: No technical foul on Powell after all and the USC folks aren't happy. Dedmon, back in with four fouls, goes over Gage, isolated in the zone. An angry Powell then swishes a three after Dedmon declines to challenge him. Understandable, with the bulkier Dedmon seven feet tall, 255 pounds and playing with four fouls; smart of Powell to take advantage and put Stanford back up by four. Dedmon answers with a fadeaway of his own before harassing Stanford into a miss and then drawing Gage's second.

Stanford 65, USC 63, 3:37 left

Okay, it's crunch time. This is when champions are made or, you know, NCAA No. 12 seeds. We're tied after Dedmon makes both of his free throws. Seven footers aren't supposed to shoot like that! But the game turns on the other end as Josh Huestis does a great sell job on a Dedmon boxout and induces Dedmon's fifth and final foul on a whistle that, to put it mildly, would have Stanford fans fuming if the shoe were on the other foot. (Whistle were on the other lips?) Let's hope there aren't makeup calls in basketball. Bright misses a long three as we are under three minutes left, tied at 65. Gage whistled for his third on a bit of a makeup, but Omar Oraby obliges and misses the front end of a one and one. Powell tries to save his blocked shot, and does – right to a streaking Trojan who has an uncontested layup. Aaron Bright then draws a blocking foul and makes both free throws to retie at 67. Fontan turns the corner on Bright and gets a whistle on Powell reaching in with 1:51 to go. He makes both; it's 69-67 USC. Dawkins takes a timeout with 1:37 left. Off the coach's timeout, Bright misses a three long, but Gage gets the O board and has his putback knocked out of bounds. A Powell baseline J just trickles out. USC runs the clock under 45 seconds, only to miss an open three. Stanford takes its last timeout with a six-second game and shot clock differential.

"And he was fouled." Mark Madsen is having flashbacks as Brown banks in a five footer, but Brown misses the ensuing free throw, giving USC a tie game and the ball with 20 seconds left. Off a USC timeout, the Trojans drive the paint and call Chasson Randle on a shove of Gio Fontan from behind. Stanford will have 6.9 seconds left after Fontan makes both shots. On the money possession, Randle drives hard at the rim, perhaps looking for contact, but gets no whistle and puts his runner long. Powell is right there for the putback dunk, but he is again rejected by the rim at the most unfortunate of moments. The ball bounces off the back iron and floats a foot in the air, only to come down, bounce off the front rim and out as time expires.

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