STANFORD -- The Pac-12's last-place team visited Maples Pavilion on Thursday night without its best player, and still made Stanford sweat for while.
The Cardinal finally got out of its own way and posted an easy 80-59 victory over USC in front of 4,345 fans to pull into a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings.
Winners of four of its past five games, Stanford (17-8, 8-5) faces second-place UCLA on Saturday at Maples.
"They don't expect to lose," Stanford senior Josh Huestis said of the Bruins. "I'm real excited for the opportunity we've got."
This one figured to be routine, especially when the Trojans (10-16, 1-11) announced that leading scorer and rebounder Byron Wesley would not face either Stanford or Cal this weekend after violating team rules.
But Stanford shot 28.6 percent in the first half and played seven minutes without senior Dwight Powell, who went to the locker room for three stitches in his head after being knocked to the floor by USC's Strahinj Gavrilovic.
"He's fine," coach Johnny Dawkins said, "but you never know what's going on when you see a pool of blood on the floor."
USC trailed just 34-29 after a layup by Omar Oraby with 18:33 left in the game. But Stanford gradually got a grip on the game, then took charge with a 21-5 surge.
An 8-0 Cardinal run, featuring six free throws and a hook shot by Powell, pushed the margin to 59-42 with 9:48 left. A 13-0 burst, punctuated by a three-point play by Powell, made it 72-47 with 5:05 left.
Asked why it took so long to get the offense going, guard Chasson Randle said, "I'm not sure. You just have to keep playing basketball and eventually the shots will go in for us. And they did."
Dawkins said the Cardinal moved the ball better in the second half and didn't settle for 3-pointers after shooting 1 for 13 in the opening 20 minutes.
He was much happier with his team's defense. "We found a way, through our defense, through our effort," Dawkins said.
Huestis led the Cardinal with 11 points, a career-high 18 rebounds and three blocked shots to become Stanford's all-time leader with 169. He eclipsed Tim Young's record of 167.
"That's a remarkable record to break when you're only 6-foot-7," Dawkins said.
Randle overcame a 4-for-15 shooting performance with a 10-for-10 effort at the foul line and scored 18 points. Anthony Brown scored 13.
Powell had 14 points, all of them after his collision with 14:24 left in the first half. He passed a concussion test before returning with 7:32 left, wearing a new No. 32 jersey because No. 33 was speckled with blood.
"It's always scary when you see someone leave, let alone bleeding from the head," Huestis said. "He didn't really miss a step. But I don't like it when Dwight disappears like that."
Pe'Shon Howard scored 13 points for USC, which certainly missed Wesley's firepower. The junior guard averages 17.6 points and had scored at a 22.0 clip the previous five games.
Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.
UCLA (21-5, 10-3 Pac-12) at Stanford (17-8, 8-5),
3 p.m. ESPN2