Stanford Turns Back Trojans

Isn't it about time Stanford won a game on free throws? The Card knocked down 28-of-34 in a huge gutcheck Saturday to complete a home sweep of the L.A. schools, outlasting USC 80-72. Senior point guard Julius Barnes played his best game of the year, hitting for 27 points including a clutch 13-for-13 from the charity stripe.

Leading by a handful of points late in the game, Cardinalmaniacs™ realized that the contest would be determined at the free throw line, where success this season had been abysmal at best.  Much to Stanford fans' elation, the team completed nearly all of their free throws to prevail 80-72.

On Thursday, Stanford managed to score a tepid 52 points for the game.  Against USC, there were over 11 minutes left to play in the second half when Stanford had already broken Thursday's mark.  Leading by a mere four points at that moment, it was apparent that a single point in the final six minutes would not be sufficient this time around.

The game commenced with consecutive field goals from the Trojans, including a basket from Desmon "I'm Definitely Not a" Farmer and Errick Craven.  Julius Barnes was quick to respond, driving for a deuce and drawing a foul.  He then completed the three point play (which would be a good omen for foul shooting for the remainder of the game).  Shortly after, Barnes added another three point play, this time through the more direct route, nailing a 22 footer to give Stanford an 8-6 lead.  After a brief USC run, Stanford found itself down by two when Barnes struck again from the field to tie the game at 12 apiece.  On the ensuing USC possession, Nick Robinson came up with the steal and gave the ball to none-other-than Julius Barnes, who drove with the ball to come up with an uncontested dunk in transition.

Six minutes into the game, Justin Davis was put in the game for the first time since suffering his MCL sprain against Cal on January 4 - exactly three weeks ago.  It would turn out that this would be a fitting game to mark his return since Rob Little would soon find himself on the bench due to early foul trouble. 

At the 13:10 mark, Julius Barnes scored again from the outside to push the lead to 21-14, with 15 of the Stanford points coming from Barnes.  USC then slowly began to make up the deficit, utilizing their athletic ability in the transition game.  With 3:40 left in the half, an alley-oop cut the lead to a meager three points at 33-30.  Stanford would conclude the opening 20:00 minutes of the game with a mini rally to take a 40-33 lead.

USC had an opportunity to pull up right behind the Cardinal two minutes into the second half as Matt Lottich was called for a controversial intentional foul.  Stanford held the visitors scoreless on the ensuing possession after the foul shots to maintain a four point lead. 

Once again, USC found their best stride in transition as the other half of the Craven entry, Derrick, completed a scintillating drive through heavy traffic with a layup to pull the Trojans within one at 45-44.  Clinging to the lead, Matt Lottich drove along the baseline to find an open Josh Childress, who received the ball and responded with an emphatic dunk.  Stanford rebuffed USC on the Trojans' next possession as Nick Robinson blocked a put back attempt after a Derrick Craven miss.  Matt Lottich was then able to score via goaltending as Jerry Dupree was whistled for the infraction.

With 8:58 remaining Farmer brought his team back within a point at 55-54 with a basket and one (which would be Little's fifth foul of the game).  The Trojans would loom dangerously close to the lead for the next four minutes until Rory O'Neil's three pointer tied the game at 62.

Stanford would then reclaim the lead at the charity stripe, completing their five consecutive free throws.  After a Josh Childress miss ended the streak, the Cardinal was able to rebound the ball, which resulted in a Justin Davis dunk with the assist going to Matt Lottich. The score was then 69-62. 

All of Stanford's subsequent scoring from free throws.  The Cardinal was nearly flawless from then on, going 11-12, with the lone miss coming from Josh Childress.  Stanford was able to win relatively comfortably at 80-72.

Julius Barnes dominated the scoring column with 27 points.  Behind him was Desmon Farmer with 23 and Matt Lottich with 22.  Josh Childress added 14 points but his total of 15 rebounds was more impressive for the small forward.  Stanford played smarter basketball then their opponents, committing half as many fouls as USC, who had a total of 28.

Complete game box score

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