EVANSTON, Ill. (AP)—Coach Trent Johnson is pleased with the play of 7-foot center Robin Lopez and thinks the sophomore can be even better.
“Let’s don’t get on the Robin Lopez fan club,” Johnson said Thursday night after Lopez had 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in No. 20 Stanford’s 71-60 win over Northwestern.
“His footwork looked good today, but I’ve seen him for a year and half and he’s got a long way to go,” Johnson said. “I’d like to see him be consistent from start to finish.”
Stanford (4-0) showed some balance with Anthony Goods scoring 19 and Landry Fields adding 16 with four 3-pointers. The Cardinal is 4-0 for the first time since the 2003-04 season when it won its first 26.
Lopez posed a difficult problem for the smaller Wildcats with his post play and shot blocking. Fields, meanwhile, was on target from the outside and Goods showed why he’s been the team’s leading scorer early in the season.
“It was not really expected. I don’t think I’m going to take a certain amount of shots,” Goods said. “I just try to stay aggressive when the time presents itself. Try to do what I was recruited to do.”
Lopez, who averaged nearly 2 1/2 blocks per game a year ago, acknowledged he was a bit surprised that Northwestern kept taking the ball to him.
“Last year I blocked quite a few shots and I actually haven’t had that many come at me this year. You never know,” Lopez said. “Northwestern was just really aggressive and there were just a lot more opportunities.”
The most aggressive player in the second half for the Wildcats was 5-foot-10 freshman Michael Thompson, who scored all of his 16 points after halftime.
“In the second half he just came alive. We have to get the ball in his hands more and let him make plays,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said after his team lost its season opener.
Stanford forward Lawrence Hill suffered a mild sprain of his left ankle as the teams battled for a rebound with 18:09 left and did not return. Even without the 6-8 Hill for most of the second half, the Cardinal controlled the boards 45-24.
Hill was hurt during the Cardinal’s 11-4 spurt after intermission that featured a quick 3-pointer from Goods and two baskets by Lopez that helped expand the lead to 42-29.
But Thompson had six points to spark a 15-2 run and the Wildcats roared back to tie it on Jason Okrzesik’s 3-pointer with 9:50 to go.
Goods’ nice reverse layup after another block by Lopez and then his three-point play helped Stanford build the lead back to 53-44.
Northwestern chopped the deficit back to three, but Fields sank another 3-pointer and the Cardinal ran out the victory at the line.
In the first half, Lopez stuffed a shot attempt by Nikola Baran and then raced to the other end to catch an alley oop, slamming it in to put the Cardinal up 23-22. He later added a jump hook and another dunk as Stanford went up six at the half.
Using three 3-pointers, Stanford scored 11 straight points after Northwestern got the opening basket. But the Wildcats caught up and regained the lead on Baran’s 3-pointer from the deep corner.
It was Stanford’s first road game after three lopsided home wins against Harvard, Northwestern State and UC Santa Barbara.
“You kinda forget what the road is like, but you always know it’s going to be hard. That’s one thing that is always consistent,” Goods said. “They put a run on us in the second half after we got up. It was a tough game.”
Northwestern’s Kevin Coble, who last season became the first player in school history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman, did not play. He is on leave from the program while his mother undergoes cancer treatments.