SEATTLE (AP)—This week, Stanford coach Trent Johnson stated his workmanlike team lacked a look-at-me scorer who could put up 30 points per game.
Well, look at Brook Lopez.
The 7-footer scored a career-high 31 points and had 13 rebounds as the No. 14 Cardinal bullied Washington in a 65-51 victory, the Huskies’ worst home loss in five years.
So was Lopez, a sophomore who was averaging 17.8 points, attempting to prove his coach wrong?
“No,” Lopez said, smiling broadly and laughing. “I wasn’t at all.”
It only looked that way. He was 11-for-17 shooting en route to the biggest scoring night by a Cardinal since Dan Grunfeld scored 31 against Arizona State in 2006.
Johnson’s response was a who-knew? shoulder shrug.
“There are so many part of his game where he needs to improve,” the demanding Johnson said.
C’mon, coach. Aren’t you happy with Brook’s game?
“On one end of the floor, offensively, yes,” Johnson said, staying in stoic character. “I’m never happy with anybody defensively.”
Stanford (17-3, 6-2 Pac-10) won for the first time in Seattle since 2001 and for the fourth consecutive time overall heading into Saturday’s game at No. 9 Washington State. The Cardinal are currently alone in second place in the Pac-10, because Washington State lost Thursday night at home to California.
Stanford had lost five consecutive games to Washington in Seattle, plus a second-round upset loss in the 2004 NCAA tournament to Alabama in KeyArena across town, when Stanford was a top seed.
“Even when the team was undefeated we came in here and lost,” Lopez said.
The Cardinal’s last win in the Emerald City was Jan. 25, 2001, over Washington when Stanford was ranked No. 1.
Quincy Pondexter scored 15 points and Jon Brockman had 13 points and 13 rebounds for out-manned Washington (12-9, 3-5).
The Huskies had won three of last four games to climb out of the Pac-10 basement. But that was before Lopez and his 7-foot twin, Robin, arrived to send the Huskies to their worst home loss since Gonzaga thumped them by 24 points on Dec. 3, 2003.
That was also the last time a team had beaten Washington by double-digits at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Robin blocked shots and repelled those smaller Huskies who dared enter the lane, leaving Brockman shuffling slowly to the training room for extended treatment of an already sore groin—and pretty much the rest of his body— afterward.
Then the rugged star got two hugs of condolence and a comforting pat on the head from his mother, Becky Brockman, as he met his parents in the tunnel that connects the floor to the locker room.
“Yeah, you know, another physical game in the Pac-10,” Brockman said with a smile that was as weak as Washington’s answer to the dominance of the Lopez twins.
Brook took ample care of the offense.
Washington tried Brockman’s bullying, 7-footer Joe Wolfinger’s height, 6-foot-8 Artem Wallace’s bulk and 6-9 freshman Matthew Bryan-Amaning’s jumping on Brook Lopez. Lopez bulled through and shot over them all with equal ease.
“Tremendous,” marveled Pondexter, who has been playing with and against Brook since they were growing up together in Fresno, Calif.
“I’ve been playing against him since he was 5, 6 years old. It was nice to see him use some of the tips I gave him. He dunks the ball now. He and Robin never dunked before. I always told them, ‘You guys are huge!’
“Now, they can make plenty of money doing that,” in the NBA.
Lopez was 6-for-9 shooting on power moves in the low blocks and mid-range jumpers in the first half, when Stanford purposefully surged to a 14-point lead. After Washington cut the lead to 11 at halftime, he ended any Huskies’ thoughts of a comeback by scoring eight of Stanford’s first 10 points of the second half.
Consecutive three-point plays while slamming through Wallace and Pondexter had Lopez pumping his fists and yelling “Ohhhh!” and the home crowd stunned. When Lopez beat Brockman to position down low for his ninth make in 13 tries, Stanford led 43-26. The Cardinal cruised from there.
“He was on fire,” Brockman said.
Washington was outrebounded for the sixth time in 21 games this season. The Huskies, the Pac-10’s worst free-throw shooting team at 59.9 percent entering the game, also doomed themselves by making just 14 of 26 from the foul line.