Six Pac-10 teams were ranked in the AP Top 25 in the preseason, but only three remain. Stanford hopes that number doesn’t fall any further.
The 23rd-ranked Cardinal look to win their fourth straight road game on Sunday when they visit Oregon, which is unbeaten at home.
Stanford (13-2, 2-1 Pac-10) has already fallen from the rankings once this season, but the Cardinal re-entered the top 25 with a seven-game winning streak in non-conference play and are trying to extend their latest run to three.
They’re also aiming at their longest road winning streak since the 2003-04 season, when they reeled off 10 consecutive victories away from Maples Pavilion en route to a 26-0 start.
The Cardinal are coming off a 66-46 win at Oregon State on Thursday, their second straight game holding an opponent to 46 points. Stanford is allowing just 56.1 points per game—third-best in the Pac-10—and opponents are shooting only 38.8 percent from the field.
Stanford coach Trent Johnson threw off the Beavers with a surprise change in the starting lineup on Thursday, starting 6-foot-8 forward Lawrence Hill in place of usual 7-foot power forward Robin Lopez. The smaller lineup negated a possible advantage for Oregon State, and Hill scored 13 points.
“We have a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions,” Hill said. “We’re all just team players.”
Brook Lopez—Robin’s twin—and Anthony Goods each added 12 points for the Cardinal.
Brook Lopez, also a 7-footer, leads the Cardinal with 15.2 points per game, though he missed the first nine games due to being academically ineligible the first semester. He had a career-high 26 points against Oregon in their most recent meeting last February, an 88-69 Stanford home win.
The Cardinal will face another smaller team in Oregon (11-4, 2-1). Its tallest starter is 6-9 Maarty Leunen, but all five starters are averaging in double figures, and Oregon leads the Pac-10 at 83.1 points per game.
The Ducks, who had been ranked as high as No. 11, plummeted from the rankings by losing three of four, but they’ve bounced back with wins in their last two games—at Arizona and at home against California.
They beat Cal 79-70 on Thursday for their 10th straight win at McArthur Court dating back to last season. The Ducks have also won 24 of 26 at home.
“We don’t want to lose at Mac Court,” forward Malik Hairston said. “It is just unacceptable.”
Hairston and Bryce Taylor each had 20 points Thursday, while Leunen added 18 and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
But Leunen, a senior, has struggled in his career against Stanford, averaging just 6.2 points in six games. The Ducks won 66-59 at home against the Cardinal last season, but that’s their only win against them in the last nine meetings dating back to 2003-04.
“They like to play a more slowed-down game,” Taylor said. “It is just another opportunity on the big stage to show we’ve bounced back.”