It's time to believe. Stanford men's basketball coach Trent Johnson has maintained all year that how goes the defense, so goes the Cardinal.
Ninth-ranked Stanford is second in the Pac-10, allowing a mere 56.9 points a game. After beating visiting Oregon, 72-43, on Thursday night, the Cardinal (8-2, 19-3) retained sole possession of second place in the conference.
Coincidence? Not according to the Book of Trent and his disciples.
"There were no lapses," Stanford junior forward Lawrence Hill said. "I look at the defensive effort and I say that carried us."
No one seems to look good against Stanford and that's just the way the coach likes it.
"Grind, slug, methodical . . . Those are all good descriptions," Johnson said. "That's as good as we've been in awhile. We shared the ball and everybody got involved."
Oregon scored its fewest points in a game since scoring 39 points in a loss to Montana in 1991. It's the fewest points the Ducks have scored against Stanford since losing, 52-39, on March 11, 1938 at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. The Cardinal had a guy named Hank Luisetti on the team who lit up Oregon for 46 points.
It was Stanford's largest margin of victory over the Ducks since a 32-point swing (47-15) at Oregon on Feb. 24, 1920.
Stanford hopes to maintain its current level when Oregon State visits for a 5 p.m. game on Saturday. It's unlikely the Cardinal will even come close to holding the Beavers to a new low. Oregon State beat Stanford, 18-16, on Jan. 28, 1980 in the modern Maples Pavilion, long before the three-point shot and shot clock came into being.
Fascinating what one can learn by thumbing through the media guide. Here's another nugget: The Beavers last won on the west side of the San Francisco Bay in 1993, a full 15 years ago. Trent Johnson was an assistant coach at Rice, three years away from joining the Stanford coaching staff.
Stanford owns a five-game overall winning streak against Oregon State.
"We have to keep playing," Hill said. "Every game is so important. (Oregon) is a good showing on how to take care of the ball."
Hill had one of his better nights, scoring 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting. He was 4-of-6 from long range.
Robin Lopez scored 15 points, his most since recording a career-high 24 against Yale in November.
"Teams are rightfully paying more attention to Brook and that opens the lane for me to work down low. I have a lot of room. Brook will have an easier time scoring because our guards are shooting like they can and teams won't be able to focus on Brook."
Brook Lopez did score 12 points, grab seven rebounds and block five shots. Drew Shiller saw his most game action in quite awhile and hit a key 3-pointer early in the game that sparked the Cardinal. Shiller had eight points, three rebounds and a pair of assists in 21 minutes.
"It's been an interesting year," Shiller said. "I played a lot early in the season, and not through the Pac-10 I'm seeing my playing time increase a little bit. We're winning and we're playing well. That matters. A 29-point win over a team like Oregon is pretty impressive."
Shiller's 3-pointer midway through the first half ended a short Oregon run and Stanford went on to take a double-digit lead and never looked back.
Fred Washington, who shared the team lead with Brook Lopez with seven rebounds, converted a layup in the final 10 seconds of the first half to help send Stanford into the intermission with a 37-23 lead.