-- BREAKING IT DOWN --
Key moment(s): Chasson Time. Stanford's leading scorer, Chasson Randle, entered averaging 19.2 points per game. For 40 minutes, USC's defenders had held him significantly under that mark, allowing him only 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting. But when it mattered most, the Cardinal junior took over.
In overtime, Randle knocked down a 3-pointer from the right side, made an incredibly difficult shot driving to the right that he stretched the ball out and flipped up over 6'10" Nikola Jovanovic, and knocked down a pair of late free throws to seal the victory. Randle finished with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists (4 turnovers).
"I thought our players did a very good job on him," USC head coach Andy Enfield said. "But he's an all-league player and he played like it in overtime."
Back-and-Forth Runs. The second half proved to be a game of runs beginning with USC's 8-0 spurt to open the half and take a 36-32 lead. Stanford responded with a 12-3 push to regain a five-point lead with 11:29 remaining. A minute later, J.T. Terrell banked in a 3-pointer and Omar Oraby scored five consecutive points to put the Trojans back ahead 51-49. The Cardinal's immediate response was nine straight points that gave it a 58-51 lead with 3:54 remaining. Finally, a 10-3 run by USC evened the game up and sent it into overtime.
Player of the Game: Byron Wesley. When USC needed big buckets down the stretch in regulation, it was Byron Wesley that the Trojans went to. Wesley scored a game-high 18 points, but it was in the final three minutes of regulation that he really made his mark, scoring six points and assisting on USC's only other field goal to help USC erase a 6-point deficit and send the game to overtime.
The Trojans' leading scorer had his troubles in overtime, shooting 1-for-3 from the field and 1-for-4 from the free throw line, but without his contributions, the game never would have made it to overtime.
Most Spectacular Play(s): Twice as Nice. The mild-demeanored J.T. Terrell isn't always known for his on-court energy, but he definitely brought it Sunday afternoon. He also brought his elite athleticism in the process of scoring 13 points and grabbing a career-high 8 rebounds.
"I thought he brought a lot to the table tonight," Enfield said. "He gave our team a lift and some crucial points."
In the first half, Nikola Jovanovic threw up a wild shot, trying to draw a foul, after bumping into a Stanford defender. The shot bounced off the backboard and hit twice on the rim -- something that normally negates rebounders who jump early for tip-ins. But Terrell hung in the air, seemingly gliding toward the rim, waiting for the ball, and was able to grab it and slam it home with two hands. (1:01 in the Highlights section below)
Early in the second half, I tried pointing out on Twitter how involved Terrell seemed to be, when I was interrupted...
J.T. Terrell is playing with a lot of passion and energy today...and SLAMS home another big putback dunk! He's got 10 to lead #USC.— Shotgun Spratling (@ShotgunSpr) January 26, 2014
(1:16 in the Highlights section below)
Unsung Hero: Strahinja "Luis" Gavrilovic. The Trojans got 23 points from Nikola Jovanovic in the win over Cal on Wednesday. On Sunday, he scored only five points and had just one rebound. His Serbian frontcourt mate, Strahinja Gavrilovic, took up the slack for him. Gavrilovic had eight points in the first half before finishing with a new career high of 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. He played hard-nosed defense and battled on the boards for the Trojans.
"We have a lot of other guys that can do things offensively that he can't do or that he's working on. But I can't keep him out of the game sometimes because he plays so hard and he just affects it with energy. I'm very proud of him. He's worked like crazy to be in this position." -- USC head coach Andy Enfield
Senior guard Pe'Shon Howard and sophomore forward Luis Gavrilovic talk about USC's disappointing 79-71 overtime loss to Stanford.
"Step It Up:" Overtime Game Control. After the game, Pe'Shon Howard shouldered the blame for the loss. In the post-game presser video above, Howard talks about how he didn't manage the game well in the overtime period. The senior transfer from Maryland took (and missed) a quick three-point attempt from the left wing when Stanford went underneath a screen and a floater in the lane. The quick shots (and long rebounds) led to USC being unable to match up correctly on the defensive end, which led to Chasson Randle and John Gage each knocking down crucial 3-pointers.
Howard did have a strong all-around game finishing with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a new career high with 7 steals, but in the end, he placed the onus on himself.
"We had all the momentum and I just didn't do a good job of managing overtime," Howard said. "Coach gave me the freedom, almost let me call the plays, so I'll take responsibility for that."
Key stat(s): 5. Stanford had five players finish in double figures. Randle led the way with 17 points, but the Cardinal also got 16 from Josh Huestis, 14 from Dwight Powell, 12 off the bench from Gage and Anthony Brown scored 11 points to complement his 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.
19-for-30. After shooting 32-for-39 (82 percent) from the charity stripe the last two games, USC basketball missed 11 freebies on Sunday. The Trojans shot only 63 percent.
5-1. Pe'Shon Howard finished with six assists and four turnovers. Today was the first time USC lost when Howard dished out five or more assists.
49; 96. Omar Oraby had one block. He moves into sole possession of eighth place on USC's single season (49) and career (96) blocked shots list.
Quote of the Night:
"We played very hard and had a chance to win. As a coach, that's all you can ask for. In overtime, they made tough shots and we missed some easy ones. I'm proud of the team's effort." -- USC head coach Andy Enfield
Where They Stand: The Trojans best shot to make the NCAA Tournament will come in the Pac-12 Tournament. To improve its chances there, USC needs to work on trying to advance a few rungs of the conference pecking order to ensure a better draw in Las Vegas. At 1-6, the Trojans are currently tied for last place with Washington State.
Spotted: USC top recruit Jordan McLaughlin, a point guard out of Etiwanda (Calif.) HS, was in the crowd cheering for his future teammates. Sitting in the front row with Athletic Director Pat Haden and Senior Associate Athletic Director of Football J.K. McKay was USC president Max Nikias. Fellow Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Lopes, who is also the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of USC's athletic department, was also in attendance.