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first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The key series in the game involved Francis as well. After Stanford closed an 18-point USC lead down to four, reserve forward Jeremy Barr was fouled and went to the line. Barr, who had made just 4 of his previous 20 free-throw attempts, sunk both shots. Hernandez took the inbounds pass up court and Francis picked his pocket for the steal and a layup to extend USC’s lead to eight. “I felt that we needed a (game-changing play), so I came up and tried to put pressure on him and he gave it to me,” Francis said. “If you play out in front of me, I’m just going to take it.” The New Year’s Eve crowd of 4,485 wasn’t as big as the one at Staples Center on Thursday. However, the student section was by far the biggest and most vocal at a USC basketball game this year, aided by a large contingency of the school’s football band attending in plain clothes. It was the first victory by USC (10-3, 1-1) over Stanford in seven games. The Cardinal (4-6, 0-2) was picked to finish second in the conference in the preseason media poll. All the momentum USC built in nonconference games wouldn’t have meant much if the Trojans started out 0-2 at home to begin Pacific-10 Conference play. Grasping the importance of the game, the Trojans came out with a defensive fire and forced 13 steals to help beat Stanford 82-71 Saturday at Staples Center. “That Cal game, that really bothered us,” Ryan Francis said of Thursday’s conference-opening loss. “So we came back and played real hard. We wanted to show everyone we’re … no fluke.” All five USC starters scored in double figures for the first time this season, with Lodrick Stewart leading the way with 18 points. Francis, a freshman point guard, was the instigator on defense as usual. Francis harassed Chris Hernandez, generally regarded as one of the top point guards in the Pac-10. He forced four steals, three of which he brought back for layups. The easy opportunities created by his defense led to a career-high 15 points for Francis. center_img “It feels good, my first time ever beating Stanford,” said sophomore Nick Young, who had 16 points. “We knew we had to get a victory. You don’t want to come out in the Pac-10 0-2.” USC started the game with a 6-1 run, boosted by some unexpected offense from forward Abdoulaye N’diaye, who had a career-best 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out with six minutes remaining. The Trojans seemed to break the game open with an 8-0 run near the end of the first half followed by a 13-2 run to start the second half. Stewart scored seven of the 13 points in that run. Stanford played most of the second half without leading scorer Matt Haryasz, who left the game with what was thought to be a sprained ankle. The Trojans led by 18 when he went out. Gabe Pruitt made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 1:01 to keep Stanford at bay. He finished with 14 points. “We were in a lot of close games in the preseason,” Trojans coach Tim Floyd said. “… We happened to win a couple of those close ones after losing the Northridge game, and I think the guys did play with a little more poise down the stretch.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more