The stars come out for USC

first_imgIf you build it, they will come. Coming off its most embarrassing loss of the season and going against the one Pacific-10 Conference team it had been dominated by, USC had plenty of support Thursday. Football coach Pete Carroll gave the team a pep talk before the game and actor Denzel Washington celebrated with the players in the locker room after a 69-65 victory over Stanford in front of 9,560 at Galen Center. “Pete Carroll came in, got us pumped up and we fed off that energy,” said Nick Young, who led USC with 22 points. “We went out there and tried to play like the football team.” USC (20-8, 10-5) moved out of a third-place tie with the Cardinal and avenged its worst Pac-10 loss of the season. The Trojans hadn’t lost consecutive games this season, and they were following a defeat to Arizona State – previously winless in 14 conference games. USC made it to 20 victories for just the fourth time in the past 28 seasons and the first since 2001-02. Coach Tim Floyd said he thought this victory will get the team back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since that 2001-02 season. “I think so, especially when you look at the Oregon and Arizona sweeps,” Floyd said. “We won’t approach it that way, though. We’ll approach it that we’ve got to go out and get another one.” center_img At Stanford last month, the Cardinal raced out to a 12-2 lead. This time, the Trojans came out ready to play thanks to the speech from Carroll, who told the players not to get pushed around by Stanford again and reminded them that the football team hasn’t lost at home in more than five years. Young got the Trojans off to a hot start by scoring nine of the team’s first 11 points – including an incredible reverse layup. RouSean Cromwell made his second start of the season at forward to help match up with Stanford’s 7-foot twin towers of Brook and Robin Lopez. Brook, who along with his brother grew up in Granada Hills until moving away at age 6, had 12 of Stanford’s 19 blocks in Palo Alto. The Cardinal managed just three blocks in this game. Gabe Pruitt started the Trojans off well in the second half, dishing to Cromwell for a two-handed dunk, then hitting a 3-pointer to put USC ahead 41-30 two minutes in. Then USC got defensive. Pruitt made steals that set up fastbreaks on consecutive plays, scoring on a reverse layup the first time down and then setting up Gibson to make two foul shots. Then Lodrick Stewart made two steals, the second one leading to a layup from Pruitt to give USC its biggest lead of the game at 58-45. Stanford (17-9, 9-6) closed to within three points in the final minute, but Young made fourfree throws to clinch the victory. After the game, Stewart was using his cell phone to get a picture taken with Washington, a regular at Lakers games who was making his first appearance at Galen Center with courtside seats. “We’re on a mission,” Stewart said. “We know we have a lot of support if Denzel is here.” (818) 713-3607 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