LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Justin Davis scored 20 points and Julius Barnes added 16 as 21st-ranked Stanford reached 20 victories for the ninth straight season with a 73-67 Pac-10 Conference victory over Southern California.
Davis, a native of Berkeley, is the only Cardinal from the Bay Area, while Barnes and Josh Childress are the latest in a series of players coach Mike Montgomery has recruited from the Los Angeles area.
Davis, who was sidelined for five games in January with a left knee injury, had his second straight solid game since returning to the starting lineup for last Saturday's win against Washington State.
He collected 21 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting in that game and Thursday, his three-point play helped begin a game-ending 10-2 run.
After Davis' play made it 66-65 with 3 1/2 minutes to go, Matt Lottich followed with a 3-pointer and USC's Rory O'Neil's basket made it 69-67 with 25 seconds later.
The Trojans blew several chances to get another basket and two players nearly tripped before Davis drew a key offensive foul on Desmon Farmer with under a minute left.
"With four games left to go, these guys are incredible," Montgomery said. "They just keep working on and the good new we can play a whole lot better. I mean we really can. This team as it has shown time and time again makes big plays when it has to. Everything kind of fell into place as it needed to at the end."
After Nick Robinson made a pair of free throws, Davis capped the scoring with a dunk with 7.8 seconds remaining came after USC's Errick Craven missed a 3-point attempt.
While Stanford made all the big plays, the Trojans faltered at the free-throw line. They shot 42 percent (5-of-12) from the line and missed their last four attempts over the final 6 1/2 minutes.
"We missed some free throws down the stretch," USC coach Henry Bibby said. "Some big free throws. We held them to 73 points and had 22 offensive rebounds. But we lost the game. The missed free throws were key."
Barnes is the lone returning starter from last season's team and came in averaging 15.2 points per game. The native of Rowland Heights in Los Angeles County surpassed his average as Stanford (20-6, 11-3 Pac-10) pulled within 1 1/2 games of first place Arizona.
In his next-to-last regular-season game in his hometown, Barnes shot just 6-of-17, including 3-of-11 from beyond the arc.
"Yeah we came out definitely slow," Barnes said. "I think being at home affected Josh and I. Just because you know you're in front of your family and friends, you want to play well and you want to perform where they're happy and you're happy too. But it just didn't happen tonight."
Davis's big night helped offset a sub-par effort from Childress, who is from nearby Lakewood. Childress came in averaging 14.1 points and finished with just six points.
"It's hard," Childress said. "I mean I may not have been mentally there like I should have been. I just was not focused and I should have been. That's bad on my part. But I'm happy we came out of here with a win."
USC (10-12, 5-8), which dropped its third straight contest, was led by Farmer's 24 points.
At halftime, the teams were tied 38-38. The Trojans had leads of 53-50 and 61-56 before faltering down the stretch.
Craven, who added 14 points, scored five during a 7-0 run, which gave USC a three-point lead midway through the second half.
But the Cardinal overcame both spurts as a dunk by Davis and a 3-pointer by Barnes forged a 61-61 tie at 5:18. Neither team led by more than two until Stanford's game-ending spurt.
Picked seventh in the Pac-10 preseason poll, the Cardinal have won eight of nine to pull into a second place tie with California, which lost at UCLA in overtime on Thursday.
O'Neil collected 11 and 10 rebounds as the Trojans shot 38 percent (29-of-76) against the Pac-10's stingiest defense.
Childress shot just 2-of-9, but contributed in other ways. He combined with Davis to grab 26 of Stanford's 40 rebounds.