No. 9 Stanford Crushes Florida International

Dec 15, 2003

AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif. - Rob Little lost 30 pounds over the offseason thanks to a strict shape-up plan - and it's doing wonders for his game.

Little matched his season-high with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting and No. 9 Stanford remained unbeaten with a 77-50 rout of Florida International on Monday night.

'I feel 10 times lighter,' said Little, who now carries 250 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame. 'I don't get winded and I'm not making those stupid fouls.'

Matt Lottich added 12 points and five assists and Dan Grunfeld had 13 points and four rebounds off the bench as the Cardinal outscored the Golden Panthers 41-24 in the second half.

Surging Stanford (6-0) has jumped from No. 21 in the poll to ninth in two weeks with wins over then-No. 1 Kansas and a respectable UNLV team.

The Cardinal didn't think they did enough of the little things right Monday - they had 12 turnovers and only 29 rebounds - and believe they'll have to be a lot better Saturday when they play No. 13 Gonzaga in the Pete Newell Challenge.

'It's hard to get up for a game like this like you do for a game like Kansas or Gonzaga,' Lottich said. 'We were kind of stagnant. We had a 10-point lead at halftime, but it didn't feel like it. They were controlling the tempo. I wanted to get a little emotion going. I knew they were going to have fight in the second half and we had to match their intensity.'

Carlos Morban shot 8-for-13 and scored 20 points for Florida International (2-6), which was held to its lowest point total of the season and lost its fourth straight game. It was the first ever meeting between the schools.

Morban was whistled for a technical with 5:35 remaining for arguing.

The Cardinal shot 53.8 percent in the first half to build a 36-26 lead and started the second half with a 16-6 run, flustering FIU with more intense defensive pressure that made it hard for the Golden Panthers to establish any rhythm on offense.

Lottich had two 3-pointers - including his second four-point play of the season - in the run, and Jason Haas also hit from long range. Nick Robinson's transition lay-in with 10:31 left gave the Cardinal a 56-36 lead, and they got good production from most of their roster.

'This is the toughest team we've played this year by far,' Morban said.

Starting Stanford point guard and leading scorer Chris Hernandez - averaging 14 points - didn't play for the second straight game because of back spasms, and Haas started in his place after directing the offense in Saturday's victory over UNLV.

Haas was effective running the show again - pushing the ball and hustling down loose balls. He had five points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Hernandez is expected to practice Wednesday and play Saturday.

'It wasn't a thing of beauty,' Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. 'We were sloppy and we weren't paying great attention to detail. We're trying to get our basketball team to get at a consistent level. This wasn't that. We have a much different type of challenge on Saturday, so it's back to work.'

FIU started the game 4-for-10 from the field, but kept it close thanks to five early turnovers by Stanford. The Golden Panthers played without second-leading scorer Junior Matias, who sat out his second straight game with an injury.

'Our problem was that we had key people in foul trouble in the first half,' Florida International coach Donnie Marsh said. 'We had to play other people more minutes than we wanted to. We knew they were going to come out hard in the second half, and they did, and we couldn't catch them.'

Josh Childress, a junior forward and the Cardinal's top returning scorer from last season, has a stress reaction in his left foot and hasn't played yet this season. He's expected back by early January, when the Pac-10 season begins.

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