STANFORD, Calif. (AP)—Stanford came into the weekend with its second-leading scorer sidelined and its NCAA tournament hopes in doubt.
Another sweep against the Oregon schools has improved the outlook for the Cardinal quite a bit.
Brook Lopez scored a career-high 26 points and keyed a big second-half run that helped Stanford beat No. 15 Oregon for the 21st consecutive time at Maples Pavilion, 88-69 Saturday night.
“We knew coming in that we had to bear down and be tough,” Lopez said. “Everybody needs to win out these last few games to get the best possible chance for postseason play. We knew we had to come in and play tough and go right at them.”
The Cardinal (17-8, 9-5 Pac-10) wrapped up their 14th straight home sweep against the Oregon schools and gave their tournament hopes a big boost with their fifth win of the season against a ranked opponent. They beat Oregon State 70-55 Thursday.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Cardinal, who now must head to Los Angeles to face No. 22 Southern California and No. 5 UCLA next weekend.
“It’s a hard time of the year for kids to relax and have fun,” coach Trent Johnson said. “It really is. They want to win as bad as anybody. All the talk of tournaments and things of that nature. I watch games all these games on TV and look at some of these kids out there playing and nobody is enjoying it. You have to enjoy it.”
The Ducks’ once solid tournament credentials took a hit after being swept in the Bay Area by California and Stanford for the seventh straight season.
Oregon (20-7, 8-7) has lost six of eight games overall and will try to recover with three home games to end the season.
“They don’t take teams that are going down,” guard Tajuan Porter said. “We have 20 wins, but we have to get over 20 wins. Because right now we’re going down and they want teams that are going up.”
After the sweep of the Oregon schools, Stanford is once again on the way up despite the ankle injury that sidelined Anthony Goods last weekend.
Mitch Johnson replaced Goods in the starting lineup and delivered with a career-high 12 points and no turnovers while running the offense.
“That’s the closest to a complete game that we can have at this time of year,” Johnson said. “There’s room for improvement. But considering the fact that we lost Anthony. That took us out of rhythm for the next game and a half. It’s good to have guys step up.”
The game was closed until Lopez sparked a 15-0 run for Stanford that put the Cardinal up 74-56. Lopez blocked Maarty Leunen and then scored on the other end to make it 63-56. After a basket by Lawrence Hill, Lopez scored seven straight points with a long jumper, a three-point play and a dunk.
The Ducks were held scoreless for 6:38 during the run, including two missed free throws by Malik Hairston, as they were once again done in by a long scoring drought. Oregon was blanked in the final 6:08 of the first half and 4:31 of the game in Thursday’s 63-61 loss at Cal.
By the time Hairston ended the drought with a 3-pointer, the Ducks were down 15 with just 2:53 remaining.
“We were right there and then they went on a run that we couldn’t stop,” Leunen said. “We played well up until that point. It’s just unfortunate.”
Hill added 15 points and Fred Washington had 12 for the Cardinal.
Aaron Brooks scored 25 points for Oregon, but most of them came after the game was decided. Porter added 20, including 16 in the first half.
Stanford used its size advantage with the 7-foot Lopez twins to take an early 10-point lead. The Cardinal had three offensive rebounds in the opening minutes and the presence of the big guys helped open the court for Hill to hit a pair of 3-pointers.
But then one play with 12:42 left in the half changed the momentum. Robin Lopez was called for the technical by official Dave Libbey after being called for a foul trying to block Bryce Taylor’s shot.
Oregon converted all four free throws, starting an 11-2 run capped by Porter’s turnaround 3-pointer from about 28 feet out as the shot clock expired. Coach Ernie Kent shrugged his shoulders and smiled when a fan yelled, “Just like you planned Ernie!”
Robin Lopez sat out the rest of the half with the two fouls, negating Stanford’s size advantage and helping Oregon even the rebounding margin. Brook Lopez did made up for his brother’s absence on the offensive end with 12 points in the half and the Cardinal led 40-34 at the break.