Cardinal Cracks Top-10, Hosts Oregon Thursday Night
Feb. 4, 2008
No. 9/9 Stanford Cardinal (18-3, 7-2 Pac-10)
- VS. -
Oregon Ducks (13-8, 4-5 Pac-10)
KZSU 90.1 FM (PxP: Daniel Novinson, Analyst: Ben Spielberg)
Westwood One Radio (PxP: Joey Wahler, Analyst: Bill Frieder)
The Opening Tip
No. 9/9 Stanford (18-3, 7-2 Pac-10) begins the second half of conference play one game off the league lead. The Cardinal stands alone in second place thanks to a five-game winning streak that includes a road sweep of the Washington schools last weekend. Ranked among the nation's top-10 in both polls for the first time since 2003, Stanford has already equaled its win total from last year.
Thursday's game can be heard live on KNTS 1220 AM and Stanford's official athletics website, www.gostanford.com. Dave Flemming handles play-by-play duties while John Platz provides color commentary. KZSU 90.1 FM also provides coverage with Daniel Novinson (play-by-play) and Ben Spielberg (analyst). The contest can also be heard nationally on Westwood One Radio, with Joey Wahler (play-by-play) and Bill Frieder (analyst) describing the action.
Oregon (13-8, 4-5 Pac-10) posted a 79-63 victory over Oregon State in its most recent contest, ending a four-game losing streak in conference play. The Ducks, 4-6 away from home this year, are one of only three teams that have earned a win over Stanford. Oregon has not won on the road in more than a month, defeating Arizona 84-74 back on Jan. 5. It's all about offense for the Ducks, who average 80.3 points per game and shoot 48.7-percent from the field. Players to watch include: Malik Hairston (17.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 40-84 three-pointers), Maarty Leunen (15.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 56-percent field goals) and Tajuan Porter (13.7 ppg, 58 assists, team-best 46 three-pointers).
Stanford All-Time vs. Oregon
Stanford holds an 84-43 all-time advantage. The Cardinal has won 10 of 13 overall dating back to the 2001-02 campaign. The Ducks claimed a 71-66 victory in this year's earlier meeting in Eugene back on Jan. 13. The two schools split last year's series with wins on their home courts, as Oregon posted a 66-59 victory and Stanford responded with an 88-69 rout. Seven of the last 11 games have been decided by 10 points or less.
Who To Watch Against Oregon
Brook Lopez is 23-41 from the field in three meetings, averaging 19.3 points and 8.0 boards. That includes a 26-point effort this year in which he almost single-handedly rallied Stanford to a win. Mitch Johnson (8-17 from the field in five games) and Robin Lopez (11-18 from the field in three games) have been solid. Anthony Goods has yet to find his groove, making just 4-25 from the field with three triples in four games.
Back Among The Top-10
Stanford's current ranking of No. 9 in both national polls is the club's highest mark since Dec. 15, 2003. Stanford entered the Associated Press poll at No. 9 on that day after a 5-0 start that included a 64-58 upset of then-No. 1 Kansas. One week later, the Cardinal jumped to No. 6 in the AP poll and cracked the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll at No. 8.
More On The Top-10 Ranking
This year's team is the seventh in school history to achieve a top-10 national ranking in both polls (Associated Press, ESPN/USA Today Coaches) at any point during the year.
Year Entered AP Rankings Entered Coaches Rankings Final Record2007-08 No. 9 (Feb. 4, 2008) No. 9 (Feb. 4, 2008) - - -2003-04 No. 9 (Dec. 13, 2003) No. 8 (Dec. 22, 2003) 30-2, 17-1 Pac-102001-02 No. 10 (Feb. 18, 2002) No. 9 (Nov. 26, 2001) 20-10, 12-6 Pac-102000-01 No. 4 (preseason) No. 4 (preseason) 31-3, 16-2 Pac-101999-00 No. 9 (Nov. 15, 1999) No. 7 (Nov. 22, 1999) 27-4, 15-3 Pac-101998-99 No. 3 (preseason) No. 2 (preseason) 26-7, 15-3 Pac-101997-98 No. 9 (Dec. 15, 1997) No. 9 (Dec. 15, 1997) 30-5, 15-3 Pac-10
Shooting For 20
Having already matched its win total from all of last year with an 18-13 finish, Stanford is now on the verge of recording the 19th 20-win season in program history. Nine games remain in the regular season before conference tournament play begins in early March.The Cardinal last reached the 20-win plateau in 2003-04, when the club finished 30-2. Stanford has won a season-best 18 games three times during Trent Johnson's tenure.
Stanford's 67-65 overtime win at Washington State last weekend represented the club's first overtime road victory in over five years. The Cardinal also downed Washington State 73-68 in extra time back on Jan. 16, 2003 at Pullman. Prior to last Saturday, Stanford had won just two of its last six overtime games.
The ability to shoot at least 40-percent from the field and hold opponents to under that same mark has been a key to victory for the Cardinal. Stanford is 13-0 this year when connecting at a 40-percent or better rate from the field while holding the opposition to a percentage under 40. Furthermore, only seven teams (California, Oregon, UCLA, Texas Tech, Yale, Siena, Northwestern) have shot better than 40-percent in a game this year.
The ability to bounce back from a tough loss has allowed Stanford to maintain its success. The Cardinal has won at least four straight games this year on three different occasions. It's the first time that has happened since the 2002-03 campaign, when Stanford pieced together a winning streak of at least four games on four different occasions.
Share The Ball, Force Mistakes
Two of Stanford's trademarks this year have been the ability to share the basketball and force its opponents into making mistakes. The Cardinal has tallied more assists than its opponent 18 times this year, winning every game when that's the case. The tone was set in the season opener, when Stanford dished out 25 assists that led to 43 buckets in a 111-56 pounding of Harvard. It's been a different story for opponents, as Stanford has forced at least 10 turnovers in every game this year except against Washington State on Feb. 2, Oregon on Jan. 13 and Siena on Nov. 17. Two of those three contests resulted in losses.
Defense Clearly The Key To Success
Stanford's outstanding numbers on defense are well-documented but it's worth another look. In addition to allowing just 57.6 points per game and 38.5-percent shooting from the field, the Cardinal has held 14 opponents this year to 60 or points or less. Opposing squads are averaging almost 13 turnovers per game while dishing out less than 10 assists.
Leaders On The Cardinal Side
There have been only five instances this year when the game's leading scorer has not come from the Stanford bench. Only Kyle Weaver (Washington State), O.J. Mayo (USC), Josh Shipp (UCLA), Marcus Hall (Colorado) and Josh Duell (Siena) can claim the distinction of having game-high scoring honors so far this year in games against Stanford. In the rebounding department, only three players (UC Santa Barbara's Chris Devine, Arizona's Jordan Hill, Washington State's Kyle Weaver) have grabbed more boards in a single game.
Cardinal In Pac-10, National Statistics
Stanford is the Pac-10 leader in rebounding (39.9 rpg) and blocked shots (102). Stanford is also holding foes to 57.6 points per game, good for second in the conference. Entering the week, the Cardinal was represented in the following national categories: rebounding margin (3rd), defense (7th), field-goal percentage defense (17th) and scoring margin (21st).
Stanford's work on the glass has been very impressive. The Cardinal is averaging 39.9 boards per game while limiting the opposition to just 29.7 per contest. Six different players are averaging at least 4.0 rebounds per game, led by an 8.3 clip from Brook Lopez. Stanford trails only North Carolina (12.0) and UCLA (10.6) in rebounding margin at +10.2 and has only been outrebounded by one opponent (Fresno State) so far. The biggest discrepancy came in the season opener against Harvard, when Stanford held a 50-19 edge.