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Collison, UCLA begin quest for third straight Pac-10 title

Jan 3, 2008 - 3:12 PM No. 5 UCLA (12-1) at No. 20 Stanford (11-1) 10:30 pm EST

PALO ALTO, California (Ticker) -- Darren Collison and his teammates will start off their conference schedule with their backs against the wall.

Collison and fifth-ranked UCLA will open up Pac-10 Conference play when they travel to No. 20 Stanford on Thursday.

Despite winning each of the last two regular-season titles in the Pac-10, the Bruins (12-1) have had mixed results at Maples Pavilion, splitting their last two trips.

Last season, UCLA was off to an 18-1 start when Stanford put together a tremendous second half to complete a rally from 12-point down at the break for a 75-68 victory on January 28. The Cardinal ended up with 50 points after the break.

Overall, the Bruins have lost four of their last five games here. Despite sweeping the series in 2005-06, UCLA is just 3-5 against Stanford under coach Ben Howland.

This season, Collison and UCLA enter with a five-game winning streak, posting a 76-48 victory over UC Davis on Saturday. The junior point guard led four players in double figures with 14 points, and is averaging 13.3 points over his last four games.

Freshman Kevin Love will finally get his first taste of Pac-10 play after a sensational start to his collegiate career. The 6-10 center is averaging 16.4 points and 10.2 rebounds through the first 13 games of the season.

The Cardinal (11-1) enters their first league game on a seven-game winning streak, including a 55-48 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.

Stanford got a big boost over its last three games, as outstanding center Brook Lopez returned from an academic suspension.

A member of the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team last season, Lopez has averaged 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds since his return, and has formed a formidable front line along with his 7-foot twin brother Robin.