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UO seeks quick start to finish long streak.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

STANFORD, Calif. - Oregon bused across the Bay on Friday for a workout at Maples Pavilion, where this afternoon the Ducks will attempt to snap a 19-year losing streak on Stanford's home court.

That's a long time between wins anywhere.

`We try not to worry about that too much,' UO junior Jordan Kent said. `We obviously want to get this one since we haven't won here. ...

`The important thing is getting off to a good start. The past couple of years we haven't started off that well and had to play from behind the entire game.'

The Ducks (7-6 overall, 1-1 in the Pac-10) also experienced that feeling Thursday night, when they fell 10 points behind California in the opening four minutes and spent the rest of the game, without success, trying to overtake the Bears.

The other lesson to be learned from that defeat, UO coach Ernie Kent said, was how impossible it is to defend a team shooting free throws. The Bears made 13 in the first half, and finished with 27 points at the line to Oregon's 14.

Granted, Cal had 14 of its 37 free-throw attempts in the last 2 1/2 minutes when Oregon was defending aggressively in pursuit of steals, but the bigger factor in the outcome was post players Adam Zahn and Ivan Johnson and point guard Aaron Brooks picking up two fouls each in the opening eight minutes, and being minimal factors in the first half.

The Ducks normally don't use a player after his second foul in the first half, but Kent bent his rules on that only to see Zahn pick up a third personal. Brooks sat for 10 minutes of the first half but did play with two fouls, and Kent said Friday he regretted not sticking his starting point guard back in sooner, despite the concern of drawing a third foul.

`We got stagnant offensively' without Brooks, Kent said.

To perhaps keep his key players out of early foul trouble today, Kent hinted at opening in a zone defense against Stanford (5-6, 1-2), which is shooting only .318 on three-point attempts and isn't expected to have Matt Haryasz to present a threat on the inside due to an ankle injury that kept him out of Thursday's win over Oregon State.

The Cardinal beat the Beavers with balance - five players scored in double figures - and by getting to the free-throw line. Stanford shot 35 free throws against OSU, including 28 in the second half. Much of it, Kent said, was because of Chris Hernandez or Dan Grunfeld driving to the basket and drawing fouls.

`We've just got to play smart, fundamental basketball,' Brooks said. `Keep our hands up, use our bodies ...'

Grunfeld made all 10 of his free throws Thursday and Hernandez, with an .846 free-throw percentage, hit his six free throws in scoring 20 points to lead Stanford.

`Hernandez and Grunfeld drove like crazy,' Kent said after reviewing the video of Stanford's victory.

The zone might limit some of that, the Ducks would think, and it will need to because driving is definitely part of what the Cardinals do well.

`They initiate some of the contact, so hopefully the officials will pick that up,' Brooks said. `The key to playing Hernandez is play him smart, play him straight, play him honest ... don't let him create contact on you.'

On the inside, the Ducks are wary of Haryasz suddenly showing up healthy enough to play, if not at full speed.

`We've got to prepare to see him,' Kent said. `I don't know if they'll play him or not, but we have to prepare to see him. If we don't, it's not a big adjustment.'

Haryasz not only leads Stanford in scoring, but is also the Pac-10's leading rebounder. He has particularly tormented the Ducks over the past two seasons, with key shots to help beat them the past two years in Eugene and his game here last year of 20 points and 20 rebounds in a Stanford rout.

No, the Ducks wouldn't miss him at all, though in his absence Thursday night the Cardinal had ample production from a front line of Taj Finger, Peter Prowitt and Lawrence Hill, two sophomores and a freshman, who combined for 35 points and 13 rebounds.

`There were guys who had not gotten a lot of minutes who stepped up and did a nice job for them,' Kent said.

It's still Stanford, after all. The Cardinal play with great intelligence and intensity, even if their lineup options might be limited. The Ducks figure they have to match that effort to avoid falling into another early deficit.

`The game plan will be a lot the same as it was for California,' Kent said. `We just hope we can stay out of foul trouble and not give them as many easy (points) at the free-throw line.'

OREGON AT STANFORD

Oregon (7-6, 1-1)

Starters

Malik Hairston, 6-6 So.

(14.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg)

Maarty Leunen, 6-9 So.

(8.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg)

Adam Zahn, 6-8 Jr.

(4.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg)

Brandon Lincoln, 6-4 Sr.

(5.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg)

Aaron Brooks, 6-0 Jr.

(11.8 ppg, 4.7 apg)

Stanford (5-6, 1-2)

Starters

Dan Grunfeld, 6-6 Sr.

(14.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

Taj Finger, 6-8 So.

(5.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

Peter Prowitt, 6-10 So.

(3.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

Chris Hernandez, 6-2 Sr.

(12.2 ppg, 3.4 apg)

Mitch Johnson, 6-1 Fr.

(3.0 ppg, 2.9 apg)

Time: 1 p.m.

Radio/TV: KUGN-AM (590). Fox Sports telecast shown only in California.

UO MEN VS. STANFORD

1 p.m. today at Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif. TV: Fox Sports, only in California. Radio: KUGN-AM (590).
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Title Annotation:Sports; The Ducks want to open well at Stanford, where they have a 19-year losing streak
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 7, 2006
Words:963
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