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USC’s Kids Steal Show, Upset Cal : College basketball: The new backcourt of Harris and Boseman keys winning surge in overtime, 86-78.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

California might own UCLA, but Jason Kidd and the Bears met their match Saturday against USC and its new backcourt of Burt Harris and Stais Boseman.

After spotting No. 17 Cal a 14-point lead seven minutes into the second half, the Trojans decided to stop watching and play some basketball themselves by tying the score in regulation on a three-point buzzer shot by Harris before defeating the Bears, 86-78, in overtime at the Sports Arena.

Harris, a sophomore point guard, played the game of his career in scoring 23 points, including two key three-pointers in the final nine seconds of regulation. Boseman, a freshman guard, scored 13 points and keyed the Trojans’ second-half defense against Kidd with three steals and one blocked shot.

“I know that no one gave us a chance to win . . . . not the media . . . . not the fans . . . . nobody,” said USC senior Mark Boyd, who scored five of his 16 points in the final nine minutes. “No one in their right state of mind would have bet on us after we lost to Stanford and they beat UCLA.” Playing for respect is what sparked the Trojans in the second half, because with nearly half of the crowd of 6,123 cheering for Cal throughout the first half, USC at times looked like the visiting team.

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With Lamond Murray scoring 11 points and Monty Buckley adding 10, the Bears dominated the last 11 minutes of the first half to take a 33-22 lead.

USC appeared completely overmatched in shooting only 27% and scoring a season-low 22 first half points. That’s when USC Coach George Raveling decided to match Boseman against Kidd in the second half.

As they did against UCLA on Thursday, the Bears started the second half fast, but then lost their concentration as USC went on an 11-0 run to close within 55-51 with five minutes remaining.

From there, the Trojans battled Cal basket for basket. Boseman came up with two steals from Kidd, and when Boyd scored on a rebound follow of a Boseman miss, USC trailed by only 65-63 with 25 seconds left.

That’s when Harris took over with a three-pointer sandwiched between four free throws by Kidd to set up the dramatic regulation finish. With the clock running inside eight seconds, Harris dribbled around picks set by Tremayne Anchrum and Boyd to launch a shot at the buzzer.

“When he let it go, I was screaming at him because I saw Brandon Martin open and I knew I was, too,” Boseman said. “Then when he made it, all I did was go over and hug him.”

Harris’ shot seemed to take the life out of Cal, which needed a victory to keep its hopes of finishing in a first-place tie in the Pacific 10 Conference with UCLA and Arizona alive. In overtime, USC outscored the Bears, 17-9.

A key in overtime for USC was its ability to foul out Murray, who finished with 22 points, and 6-foot-11 freshman Michael Stewart.

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“In overtime, we went to work on each guy,” Raveling said, whose Trojans improved to 13-11 overall and 6-9 in the Pac-10. “We wanted them to guard our guy in a one-on-one situation.”

In the USC locker room, it was clear that the Trojan heroes were Harris and Boseman, who complemented each other offensively and defensively down the stretch.

“This game was good for my confidence in that I was playing against Kidd,” Harris said. “When I took the shot (at the end of regulation), it felt good. Because there really wasn’t any time, there wasn’t any pressure. It was just do or die.”

Fortunately for USC, it was a do.

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