It took UCLA coach Steve Lavin only 11 games to etch his name into the Bruins' record book. On Jan. 9, 1997, UCLA lost at Stanford 109-61, the most lopsided defeat in Bruins history. Lavin's team should make a much more respectable showing this time around, but a victory will be hard to come by against a Cardinal team that's setting marks of its own.
With its 84-74 win over California last Saturday, No. 7 Stanford improved to 14-0, tying a 61-year-old record for the best start in school history and putting the Cardinal within three victories of the Stanford consecutive-wins mark. Even without 6'8" sophomore forward Mark Madsen, the Cardinal's second-leading rebounder, who's out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right foot, Stanford is one of the biggest, deepest and most physical teams in the nation. Twelve players are averaging at least 10 minutes per game, and thanks to the likes of 7'1" junior Tim Young (left), 6'7" junior Peter Sauer and 6'9" senior Pete Van Elswyk, the Cardinal is out-rebounding opponents by better than 11 per game.
The No. 8-ranked Bruins will counter with their sparkling freshman backcourt duo of Baron Davis and Earl Watson, but they are also strong up front. Six-foot-10-inch junior center Jelani McCoy, who returned to action on Dec. 30 following a nine-game suspension (reportedly, he tested positive for marijuana), is averaging 10.8 points and 7.6 rebounds as a reserve. When he and 6'8" senior J.R. Henderson—the current front-runner for Pac-10 player of the year—are on the floor together, beating UCLA inside becomes a very tall order.