ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Stanford followed a familiar script to keep its national championship hopes alive.
When it appeared Cincinnati could be the latest team to hand the Cardinal a disappointing NCAA Tournament loss, the Cardinal went to their bread-and-butter to defeat the upset-minded Bearcats 78-65, in a West Region semifinal game.
With All-American Casey Jacobsen dominating on the perimeter and the Collins twins dominating inside, Stanford (31-2) set a school record with its 31st victory and advanced to the "Elite Eight" for the first time since 1998, when the Cardinal made the Final Four.
Stanford, the top seed, will face Maryland in the regional final on Saturday at the Arrowhead Pond.
"This is probably the 10th or 11th time I've played here," said Jacobsen, a native of Glendora, California who scored a career-high 27 points. "That's nice, but the baskets are the same, the court is the same length for everyone. But Saturday, just by playing one game, Maryland will feel like they have just as much experience here. It's great just to play in front of so many friends and family." The quickness of diminutive Cincinnati guard Kenny Satterfield bothered the Cardinal and the fifth-seeded Bearcats were able to take a surprising 38-34 lead at halftime.
"I'm really proud of these guys," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said. "They've come a long way. We competed. We got in foul trouble and couldn't score. But I'm proud of my guys." Stanford clamped down defensively in the second half and methodically wore down Cincinnati (25-10) to remain perfect away from home this season (19-0). While committing 17 turnovers, the Cardinal were their usual efficient selves in the halfcourt set, shooting 63 percent (27-of-43) from the field.
"The second half was more typical of us," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "Cincy disrupted us in the first half. They got us out of our flow and we weren't very smooth. We were guilty of out-smarting ourselves in the first half." While Jacobsen enjoyed his homecoming, Jason and Jarron Collins added 15 and 14, respectively. Ryan Mendez had 14 of his 16 in the second half as the four mainstays scored all but six of Stanford's points.
"I think we played the first half trying not to lose, instead of playing to win," Mendez said.
"At halftime, we made some adjustments to get me some more touches inside," Jason Collins said. "We probably ran the same play (in the second half) every third time down the court. They had a lot of trouble stopping it." Jarron Collins' layup gave Stanford a 64-52 lead with 7:38 remaining. The Bearcats closed to 64-57 on Steve Logan's layup off a steal with 6:57 to play. But Mendez got loose for two straight layups, extending Stanford's advantage to 69-57 with 5:49 to play.
"They (Collins' twins) were a big part," Huggins said. "They broke us down and had some big shots. They are really good but they are not all they have, certainly." The Bearcats made another brief run, pulling within 71-63 on Satterfield's two foul shots with 4:13 to go. But Jason Collins made 1-of-2 foul shots and Jacobsen hit a layup and a short jumper, giving Stanford a 76-63 lead with 2:25 remaining.
"They might be the best team we've played all year in terms of executing," Satterfield said. "They play together and that's what really keyed their run. When somebody was open, they passed him the ball, and it's very hard to contain the two twins down there because they play so well in the high-low game." Satterfield finished with 24 points for the Bearcats, who shot only 33 percent (10-of-30) from the field in the second half and 40 percent (25-of-63) for the game. Logan was the only other Cincinnati player in double figures with 11 points.
Not the most athletic club in the "Sweet 16", Stanford has had trouble on occasion against quick teams. That was the case last Saturday, when the Cardinal overcame a tournament-high 37 points by St. Joseph's guard Marvin O'Connor in the second round.
And it was the case for a while against Cincinnati. The Cardinal had an uncharacteristically sloppy first half with 12 turnovers -- just below their per-game average of 12.7.
"The second half, we handled the press," Montgomery said. "When they pressured the wings, we rode Jason. Casey and Ryan hit some big shots." Cincinnati only shot 45.5 percent in the first half, but took full advantage of the turnovers to grab a 38-34 lead on B.J. Grove's follow shot with four seconds left in the half.
As a No. 1 seed last season, Stanford bowed out in the second round to North Carolina following a second-round exit to Gonzaga in 1999 as a No. 2 seed.
But so far this year, the Cardinal have avoided the upset bug and are one step away from their third Final Four appearance. Jacobsen is looking forward to facing Maryland.
"I've seen Maryland, North Carolina and Duke a lot," Jacobsen said. "That's good for us. I know a lot about their players. We will have our hands full but they will, too." The Pac-10 Conference went 2-1 in regional semifinals on Thursday and stands at 10-3 in the tournament. Surprising Southern California joined Stanford in the final eight, but UCLA fell to Duke, the top seed in the East Region.
The Bearcats won the only two previous meetings against Stanford, both in Cincinnati in the 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons.