Oregon streak ends, USC block party in TWISH

For years, Stanford basketball pointed to an impressive number of streaks that illustrated the program's prowess. One of the most powerful streaks was snapped last night. Mark DeVaughn examines the history of the Oregon streak, and looks at a performance this week against USC for the record books.

In proving just how long it had been since Oregon last won at Maples Pavilion, we'll first note the standard gauges.

From the price of a postage stamp (20 cents), the week's No. 1 single ("That's What Friends Are For") and the day's most jarring headline ("Singer Ozzy Osbourne Sued Over Teenager Suicide"), time has indeed marched on since the Ducks claimed an 83-69 victory over the Cardinal back on Jan. 13 of 1986. [Ed: Your humble editor had not yet been born.]

Now consider the particulars of the actual game. Stanford's setback occurred in the final year of Tom Davis' coaching tenure. His counterpart was Don Monson, whose son Dan continued the coaching legacy at Gonzaga – where he knocked the Cardinal out of the 1999 NCAA's – and Minnesota. Both Davis and the elder Monson are in their seventies and retired.

The contest took place on a Monday night. It marked the host's third conference game in five nights following a road swing through the Arizona schools. The Pac-10 has long since refined its scheduling.

Stanford basketball elevated itself to so many heights during Mike Montgomery's 18-season tenure, it rendered all else that occurred before to the Dark Ages. Each successive class continued an impressive number of streaks. Eleven NCAA tournament berths in a row. Ten straight seasons with an NCAA Tournament victory. Eight consecutive wins at Pauley Pavilion. Stretching from the era of Jason Kidd all the way to Lopez twins' arrival, Cal suffered a 14-year drought without winning in Palo Alto.

Now the Cardinal tries to fend off an impending cold spell. Missing the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year – neither Mike Montgomery nor Trent Johnson ever let that happen – seems all but a certainty. It's not like upending Oregon tonight would have channelled the glory days, but a loss was just another link to those days broken.

As for what occurred this week in Stanford basketball history, the following stands out as the most impressive.

Jan. 25, 2007: Stanford 65, USC 50

The Trojans entered the game ranked for the first time in five years. Stanford came in as an enigma. Which Cardinal team would show up? The team that went on the road to ACC country and knocked out Virginia, or the one that had suffered embarrassing home losses to Air Force and Santa Clara?

Records fell – while USC's shots did not. Brook Lopez doubled Stanford's previous mark for blocked shots in a game, swatting away 12 Trojan attempts in the Cardinal's resounding home victory. Stanford recorded 19 blocks in all. The previous school record was 13 in one game.

The night marked a turning point in Brook Lopez's young career. The freshman from Fresno was averaging just 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per-game at tip-off. He'd missed the season's first five games after undergoing back surgery. Lopez, however, finished his Cardinal career with a 16 points per game average, parlaying that into his NBA Lottery selection a year later.

The 7-footer notched a triple-double, adding 18 points and 11 rebounds over USC. It was the first such outing since at least 1985. Records before then are inconclusive.

He had plenty of help. Brother Robin added three blocks. Mitch Johnson dished out eight assists. Lawrence Hill went for 18 points and four rejections.

"Robin and I were getting really into it," Brook told reporters. "It was kind of a contest at first, honestly. We were just going after blocks."

Stanford (13-5, 5-3) gave its fans a much-needed show. The aforementioned home-court streak against Cal ended three weeks earlier. But three days after beating USC, the weekend sweep of the Los Angeles schools was complete. The Cards soon found victory against No. 3-ranked UCLA.

But what looked to be a laugher all the way got a bit tense late. Trailing 51-29 after Brook's slam capped a 12-0 Stanford run, USC – which missed 22 of its first 27 attempts from the floor – scored a dozen of its own in a row, and would pull within nine points.

Brook put the clamps on the rally, however, nailing a clutch jumper with four minutes to play. About all he couldn't do was set a new conference record for single-game blocks. Loren Woods (13 for Arizona in 2000) lives on in the Pac-10 record books.

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