Jio Fontan applied excellent defense on Chasson Randle with 1.8 seconds to play, forcing a missed shot at the buzzer to give the Trojans an upset victory over Stanford, 65-64.
Eric Wise missed two free-throws with 18 seconds to play which put Stanford in position to spoil the Trojans perfect night. USC dominated most of the night, leading by as many as 14 in the second-half.
Stanford (15-10, 6-6) came storming back from a 12-point half-time deficit behind a 16-point effort from junior sensation Chasson Randle. Despite the strong surge, USC won the basketball game in an unconventional manner, similar to those during the Kevin O’Neill era.
USC was placed in a pivotal situation down the stretch leading by four with 5:47 to play. The game was swinging in Stanford’s favor as the Cardinal switched to zone defense, USC’s greatest kryptonite. In a desperate state, the Trojans drove to the rack, finding success in the paint.
Early in the season the USC Trojans (12-13, 7-5) were outrageous from the free-throw line, losing many games–like against Cal and Oregon–due to their horrendous shooting. This has all seemed to change as of late as USC shot 18-23 from the charity stripe, including 9-9 from senior point guard Jio Fontan.
Stanford could only muster 12 free-throws on the night, making only four of them. The Cardinal ultimately lost the game by not attacking the basket and missing their shots from the charity stripe.
Jio Fontan took over for USC down the stretch, using his speed and quickness to attack the Cardinal defense leading to five assists and only two turnovers in the contest. The big recipient of his good play was Dewayne Demdon, who posted his best statistical game of the season.
Dedmon scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting including two rim-rattling dunks that sparked huge cheers and awes from the crowd.
While Dedmon and Fontan played well, Byron Wesley and Eric Wise recessed from the field shooting a combined 6-22. Both players have hit rough patches over the last two games, and will need to improve their shooting with red-hot Cal this Sunday.
USC stormed out to an impressive 12-point lead at the half behind a promising 12-2 run to end the frame. J.T. Terrell capped the strong half by draining a nearly 40-foot shot before the buzzer in classic style.
The first half was dominated by pace and aggressive defense, something Bob Cantu has implemented quite well with this team.
While USC controlled the game with their tempo, Stanford mashed in the paint on the other end of the court. Josh Huestis scored a game-high 22 points on 10-13 shooting from the field, while his counterpart Josh Powell added 17 points and an impressive 17 rebounds.
The Trojans may have struggled in the paint but they definitely came to play from the perimeter limiting the Cardinal to only 28-percent shooting from deep. This, for a team shooting 45-percent from downtown in Pac-12 play.
Chasson Randle is a classic example of the Cardinal struggles against USC, scoring zero points in three halves of action against the Trojans. The second half was a different story for Randle who nailed three deep balls en route to his 16 points.
USC was able to hold on for dear life and position themselves quite nicely in the Pac-12 race. The Trojans have now won four straight games as the streak of close games continues. In six out of their last eight games, the score has ended up within eight points or less.
Expect the Trojans to continue grinding out games as the season progresses as the Trojans high-intensity unit continues to move the basketball. With the victory, Head Coach Bob Cantu extends his coaching record to 5-3 with a rejuvenated USC Trojans squad.