The Trojans fell on the road to Stanford, 51-43, on a night where their two leading scorers, sophomore guard Maurice Jones and junior forward Aaron Fuller, struggled mightily.
Jones was held scoreless in the first half and finished the game with five points on 1-12 shooting.
Fuller did not record a shot attempt in the opening half and ended the night with five points and four fouls.
USC’s two freshman guards, Alexis Moore and Byron Wesley, assumed the scoring load. Moore made his first four shots of the game on his way to a team-high 12 points and four assists. Wesley had nine points and three steals.
“Being 15 games in, we have worked out the kinks,” Moore said. “There is no more time for the excuses that we are young. We have had to grow up a lot.”
USC (5-10, 0-2) jumped out to a 10-2 lead, silencing the crowd at Maples Pavilion that featured few students because of winter break. After making four of its first six shots, however, USC only made six of 17 shots the rest of the half and went into halftime trailing 31-25.
The Trojans cut Stanford’s (12-2, 2-0) lead to three late in the second half, but Cardinal guard Aaron Bright scored five consecutive points to put the game out of reach.
“We can play a bunch of midgets to a one-possession game, or the New York Knicks,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “We are just not winning games or finishing games because of our youth.”
USC is coming off of a 53-49 loss to California on Thursday.
“I cannot be more proud of the way that guys have played up here in terms of effort, rebounding, and defense,” O’Neill said. “I am shocked that a team as young as ours is as good as it is defensively.”
The Trojans next play Arizona State at home Thursday. The Sun Devils (4-9) are coming off a 68-51 loss at Arizona.