Oregon-Stanford Preview

The Associated Press

It's been quite a while since Oregon won a regular-season conference championship, and coach Dana Altman isn't about to crown his team despite its perfect start in Pac-12 play.

Instead, the 10th-ranked Ducks are focused on a two-game swing in northern California beginning Wednesday night at Stanford.

Oregon (18-2, 7-0) is off to its best start in league play since winning all 10 Pacific Coast Conference games in the 1925-26 season, conjuring talk of the team capturing its first regular-season conference title since winning the Pac-10 in 2001-02.

Altman is taking the early success in stride, though, even with the Ducks riding a nine-game winning streak and reaching their best AP ranking since also being 10th in March 2007.

"It's still too early," said Altman, whose team is the last unbeaten in Pac-12 play. "This is a league of big swings. We're not even halfway through. It's nice to be 7-0, but we've got a lot of work ahead of us. A bad week changes things really quickly.

"We've got to work a lot harder because teams are going to come after us more."

The Ducks have been living dangerously for most of the season on the offensive end, averaging a conference-worst 15.7 turnovers per contest. They shot 57.8 percent from the field but committed a season-high 23 turnovers in an 81-76 win over Washington on Saturday.

Their last six wins have come by an average of only 5.0 points.

"The turnovers really took away from the performance," Altman said. "We made a lot of bad decisions, things that we're going to have to work on."

Altman hopes to see improvement in tough road games versus Stanford and California on Saturday. The Ducks' last defeat was a 91-84 triple-overtime loss at UTEP on Dec. 19.

"It's going to be harder on the road," he said. "When you're leading the league, when you go on the road everything gets a little more intense. We'll be tested a lot more on the road because people want to get you."

Possibly making things more difficult will be the absence of starting freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who will miss at least the next two games with a left foot injury.

Junior Johnathan Loyd had nine points and five assists as he started Saturday in place of Artis, averaging 10.2 points and a team-best 3.8 assists.

The Ducks have won two straight at Stanford following a 24-game skid there. They won 68-64 at Maples Pavilion in the most recent meeting Feb. 19 to sweep last season's series.

The Cardinal (12-8, 3-4) are coming off one of their best performances of the season, routing Utah 87-56 on Sunday behind Chasson Randle's 17 points. Randle is averaging 16.0 in the last six games.

Sunday marked Stanford's most lopsided conference victory since beating Arizona State 81-51 on Feb. 5, 2004.

"I thought our guys did a good job for the most part of putting bodies on guys and making plays on the basketball," said coach Johnny Dawkins, whose team held a 43-27 rebounding edge. "That's something we've got to continue to do."

The Cardinal had a minus-1.4 rebound differential in conference play before Sunday.

Oregon leads the Pac-12 in that category at plus-8.9, and Arsalan Kazemi has grabbed 11 boards in three of the past four games.

Fellow starting forward E.J. Singler has totaled 37 points in his last two games and scored a combined 33 against Stanford last season.

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