7:00 PM ET, February 28, 2004
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, California
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Somehow, Josh Childress ended up in the arms of his fellow students in the front row of their rowdy rooting section.The Stanford star made sure the top-ranked Cardinal ushered out an era at Maples Pavilion in perfect fashion. He had 29 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, and Stanford won its school-record 25th straight game, a 76-55 victory over cold-shooting Oregon on Saturday.Childress was 10-for-16 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range in what some believe might have been his final home game before declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft.And he was the first to lead a charge into the student section to celebrate the team's fourth conference title in six seasons and a 14-0 record this season at Maples Pavilion, which will soon undergo major renovations."It was a spontaneous thing," he said. "We have the best fans in the country. ... I'm the type of guy who likes to celebrate. But I know I have to stay focused and we have to stay focused."That's why the 6-foot-8 forward deflected questions about whether he'd return for his senior season next year. He's living in the now.And why not? This has been one fun ride for everyone involved.The Cardinal didn't need an improbable comeback against Oregon this time -- they never trailed.Stanford (25-0, 16-0 Pac-10) beat the Ducks at home for the 18th consecutive time in a matchup that was nothing like the last meeting, when the Cardinal rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit to win 83-80 in Eugene on Jan. 31."I think they're better now because they've had to play so many games with the monkey on their back," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "Everyone's gunning for them."The Cardinal remained one of two unbeaten teams in Division I.No. 2 Saint Joseph's is 26-0 after squeaking out a 57-55 win earlier Saturday at Rhode Island. No team has entered the NCAA tournament without a loss since UNLV in 1991. The last team to finish the entire season unbeaten was Indiana in 1976.Luke Jackson scored 18 points and Aaron Brooks had 17 for the Ducks (12-11, 7-9), who had their entire roster available for only the fifth game all season. That's in part because Brooks missed six weeks with a broken right wrist.Stanford senior Joe Kirchofer set career highs with 13 points and 10 rebounds in just his second career start. He told coach Mike Montgomery he didn't need to start, but forward Rob Little had already offered up his opinion to the coach that Kirchofer start the game."That to me spoke volumes to our basketball team and what's important," Montgomery said. "Joe got a double-double. That was great. A fitting end."The sellout crowd of 7,391 took advantage of its last chance to rock Maples for nearly 10 months. The rowdy student section began chanting "NIT! NIT!" shortly after Oregon took the floor for warmups -- referring to the second-tier postseason tournament that Stanford will be not be a part of.Renovations begin Monday on the 36-year-old arena, which will receive a $30 million facelift that's expected to be completed by early January 2005 for the conference season. Stanford's men's and women's basketball teams will play early season home games at nearby Santa Clara University. Players cleaned out their lockers Friday and will practice in Ford Center, a short walk across campus.Stanford had another solid defensive game after holding Oregon State to a season-low 47 points Thursday night. The Ducks are a quicker team than the Beavers and have more offensive threats, but didn't find any rhythm against Stanford's scrappy man-to-man defense and scored a season low in points.Fans chanted "Justin Davis! Justin Davis!" in the final minute to honor the injured senior forward who's expected to return in time for the Pac-10 tournament beginning March 11 in Los Angeles.After the win, Stanford players received T-shirts and hats, and Montgomery and his players thanked the loyal fans.This was third time in the history of the arena that Stanford has gone undefeated at home. It also happened in 1988-89 and 1996-97.Childress scored five straight points and seven total in a 9-1 spurt late in the first half as Stanford built a 15-point lead. The Cardinal led 41-24 at halftime. Their intensity didn't waver after halftime. Nick Robinson's 3-pointer with 10:12 left made it 61-41.Robinson and Childress shared defensive duties on Jackson, who came in averaging 21.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Jackson missed his first four field goals before hitting a short jumper in the lane 8:01 before halftime. He was held to seven points in the first half."We knew that emotion was going to be a big factor in this game for Stanford," Jackson said.The teams combined to miss their first 15 shots. Oregon started the game 0-for-10 before Brooks' field goal at 13:30 started a 9-0 run in which he scored seven points and the Ducks connected on five straight shots. After Stanford missed its first seven shots, the Cardinal's next four field goals were 3-pointers.
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