USC Beats Stanford 71-69, Wins League Opener Behind Balanced Effort


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Behind a 15-point effort from Jio Fontan, including the game-winning free throws, USC (6-8, 1-0) defeated Stanford 71-69 to begin Pac-12 play, on Thursday night.

After suffering a wrist injury against Dayton, Fontan was favoring his right wrist for most of the contest against Stanford. When the Trojans needed a key bucket, the senior point guard drove to the basket and drew a blocking foul, propelling the Trojans to the victory.

After a missed slam dunk by Dwight Powell, the Trojans narrowly escaped with their first Pac-12 victory since last January 28th. USC fell behind early  in the ball game by as much as nine at the half.

In the first half, Stanford made 51.7 percent of its shots, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range. Stanford relied heavily on its bench with 21 points from reserve forwards Andy Brown and John Gage. Out-rebounding the Trojans 20-8 in the first half, Stanford dominated the glass early in the ball game.

Aaron Fuller started his second consecutive game for USC, scoring two points in the first half, finishing with six on the night. Byron Wesley scored five points on the night, but left late in the second half with an abdomonal injury.

The man with the most pressure to succeed, JT Terrell, came up short once again for the Trojans. Terrell scored two points in only eight minutes of action.

With Wesley injured in the second half, and Dewayne Dedmon fouled out, Chass Bryan and Brendyn Taylor played pivotal moments for the Trojans. Bryan drove to the basket with a purpose, scoring 10 points on five-of-six shooting.

As part of the balanced effort, Eric Wise scored 14 points on six of 10 shooting from the field while racking in four boards and two assist. Wise has become the Trojans main three-point shooter, hitting both of his attempts from behind the arc.

After a poor first half with only two points in five minutes played, Dewayne Dedmon brought the intensity to the second half. In only six minutes of action due to an accumulation of fouls with 3:15 to play, Dedmon scored 11 points and added blocked two shots.

Dedmon’s double-digit effort capped the Trojan balanced effort featuring four players in double figures. All that being said, USC still needed a double-digit second half run to catch the deep Stanford Cardinal

Stanford sophomore star Chasson Randle was held scoreless on the night, while resting 14 minutes in the second half. Andy Brown and Aaron Bright carried the slack for the Cardinal scoring 17 and 12 points respectively.

Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins should be proud of the effort his team posted on the glass, out-rebounding the Trojans by six while also grabbing nine more offensive boards. With a 10-man rotation, Stanford matched USCs depth for most the night, giving the Trojans everything they could handle.

What doomed Stanford was their poor second half shooting. After shooting 51 percent in the first half, Stanford could only manage eight buckets in 30 attempts. USC regained size on the glass in the second half with seven rebounds from Omar Oraby, as part of a 22-rebound second-half for the Trojans.

USC now sits at 1-0, first place in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2011. This victory for the Trojans matches their win total from last season with six total wins and one victory in the Pac-12.