Oregon hasn't started a season this strong in 80 years.
The ninth-ranked Ducks look to keep their remarkable start going Saturday when they host California.Oregon (17-1, 5-1 Pac-10) beat Stanford 66-59 on Thursday for its fourth straight victory. The Ducks are off to their best start since opening the 1926-27 season 24-1.Oregon's only loss this season was an 84-82 defeat to Southern California on Jan. 4. Among the Ducks' wins are victories over then-No. 18 Georgetown, third-ranked UCLA and No. 11 Arizona.Oregon has already surpassed its win total from last season, when it went 15-18. Still, guard Aaron Brooks, who leads the Ducks with 18.2 points per game, knows that Oregon still has a long way to go this season."It's not special yet, but it can be," he said. "We have a lot of games left. The middle is great, but I want to be there for the finish."Brooks had 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds Thursday for Oregon, which set season highs with 37 free throws attempted and 30 made. The Ducks are shooting 73 percent from the free-throw line this season, ranking them third in the conference. California (12-6, 4-2) is first at 78 percent.The Ducks, however, shot a season-low 29 percent from the floor Thursday."Our free-throw shooting saved us tonight," said coach Ernie Kent, who moved into second place on Oregon's all-time wins list with 181.Tajuan Porter added 15 points and Bryce Taylor scored 14 for the Ducks, whose small lineup struggled at times against Stanford's 7-foot twin brothers, freshmen Robin and Brook Lopez."Their size and our quickness were the two difference in the game," Kent said. "We kept trying to impose our will on them at the offensive end. We did a good job attacking them off the dribble."Oregon lost all three of its games against Cal last season, including a 91-87 double-overtime defeat in the conference tournament. The Ducks, though, are a different team this season -- their victory Thursday ended a seven-game losing streak to the Cardinal.The Golden Bears have won four of five, including Thursday's 77-74 victory at Oregon State. Ryan Anderson scored 22 points, including 18 of Cal's final 22 of the first half, while Ayinde Ubaka had 20 of his 22 points in the second to pass the 1,000-point mark for his career.Junior forward Eric Vierneisel added a career-best 13 points."Everybody's stepping up. That's really our weapon now," Anderson said.Anderson leads the Golden Bears, who hit 85 percent of their free throws Thursday, with 17.5 points per game. Ubaka ranks second with 14.6 a contest.Cal, which has won its last three road games, leads the all-time series between these teams 70-51.