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Brooks helps Oregon post best start in 80 years

Jan 19, 2007 - 7:20 AM EUGENE, Oregon (Ticker) -- Aaron Brooks was not going to allow one of its toughest foes to stop Oregon's chase of history.

Brooks overcame a shaky shooting performance to score 19 points as the No. 10 Ducks recorded their best start in 80 years with a 66-59 Pac-10 Conference victory over streaking Stanford.

Capturing its 17th win in its first 18 games, Oregon (17-1, 5-1 Pac-10) matched the start of the 1926-27 squad, which went on to win 25 of its first 26 games.

To accomplish that feat, Brooks and the Ducks had to beat a Cardinal team which had won the previous seven meetings in the series. Stanford (11-5, 3-3) also entered the contest on a high note after topping ranked foes Washington and Washington State within the past eight days.

"I feel for my guys because we really played well, and fought, and we had an opportunity to win against the ninth-ranked team in the country on the road," Stanford coach Trent Johnson said.

The Cardinal's confidence was evident right away as it held the high-flying Ducks to 32 percent (8-of-25) in the first half for a 26-25 lead at the break. Brooks was one of the Oregon players bothered by Stanford's tough defense, shooting 3-of-7 from the field.

The Ducks entered the contest as the league's third-highest scoring team at 80.4 points per game, but finished a season-low 29 percent (15-of-51) from the field.

"It was a defensive battle," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "They (Stanford) are a good team and they are just going to get better."

Although he continued to struggle with his shooting after the break by finishing 4-of-13, Brooks found his way to the free-throw line, where he completed all 10 attempts. His pair from the stripe with 5:03 remaining gave the Ducks a 53-51 edge.

"We just kept fighting," said the 6-0 Brooks, who finished with a career-high 10 rebounds. "We've been through a lot together. We're just battlers. We're going to play 40 minutes and I think that shows."

The Cardinal tried to answer back by going into their top freshman - 7-foot center Robin Lopez - but the Ducks' Maarty Leunen stole the pass into the post and got the ball to Brooks, who found Chamberlain Oguchi for a jumper from the left baseline for a 55-51 advantage.

After Lawrence Hill sank two free throws for Stanford, Brooks drove into the lane but missed a runner. However, 6-5 swingman Bryce Taylor grabbed the offensive rebound and converted a layup to make it 57-53 with 3:14 to go.

It was just Taylor's second rebound of the game for Oregon, which overcame a 40-35 deficit on the boards. Lopez finished with seven boards for the Cardinal while his twin brother Brook added six in 12 minutes off the bench.

"Our strength is our ability to penetrate with quickness and attack the basket and theirs is to use their big men inside and get rebounds," Kent said. "We made the adjustments at the half that allowed us to get the win."

Hill split two more free throws, and the Cardinal had a chance to tie the game with just over a minute remaining, but Anthony Goods missed a wide-open 3-pointer and Fred Washington came up short on a layup after collecting the offensive rebound.

"We had a lot of opportunities and good looks at the basket but couldn't put anything down," Goods said.

Malik Hairston then converted two free throws with 58 seconds left to give Oregon a 58-54 advantage. The Ducks finished 30-of-37 (81 percent) from the line.

"Most of our points came on free throws," Leunen said. "Taking the ball off the dribble was key for us."

Tajuan Porter, who sank all six of his free throws, scored 15 points and Taylor added 14 for Oregon, which converted Stanford's 15 turnovers into 15 points and committed just five itself.

Hill finished with 13 points for Stanford, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Washington had 12 points and eight rebounds and Robin Lopez added 10 and seven for the Cardinal, who dropped to 6-4 when outrebounding their opponent. Ironically, they are 5-1 in games when they lose the battle on the boards.