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Warily going into Stanford’s blockhouse

Times Staff Writer

It’s UCLA’s turn to venture into the swat shop in Maples Pavilion today, and after watching Stanford block 19 shots against USC, Coach Ben Howland had some advice for his players if all else fails.

“Duck,” he said.

Once there were the Collins twins, Jason and Jarron.

Now Stanford has the Lopez twins, 7-foot freshmen Robin and Brook, who had the first recorded triple-double in Stanford history Thursday with 18 points, 11 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocked shots against the Trojans.

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“This in no way is meant as an offense to the Collins twins, but they are much further along at the same stage, in my opinion,” Howland said.

“The scary part is they’re only getting better. They’re both averaging just around 10 points a game, six or seven rebounds. As you can see, they’re just getting started.”

Brook missed Stanford’s first five games because of back surgery, but his shot-blocking performance against USC fell only two shy of the NCAA record of 14 held by four players, among them former NBA great David Robinson.

And the Lopez brothers aren’t the only shot-blocking threats: At 6 feet 8, forward Lawrence Hill is third on the team with 17 blocks and is the Cardinal’s leading scorer at 15.6 points a game.

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The Cardinal will be the tallest team the third-ranked Bruins have faced since their loss to Florida in last season’s NCAA title game -- and this UCLA lineup is smaller without 7-footer Ryan Hollins.

The Bruins are clear about the challenge, particularly for inside players Lorenzo Mata, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and reserves Alfred Aboya and Ryan Wright.

“We’ve just got to play smart, try to shot fake,” Mata said. “I guess they’ve got two 7-footers, and I’m our tallest at 6-9, 6-10.

“We’ve just got to do our best, Luc and me and Ryan and Alfred.”

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The guards know they play a role, too.

“Ideally, we’d like to push the ball more and get up and down,” Arron Afflalo said. “They’re a big team and that’s the way to beat a big team, is just run them.

“For our post people, we need Luc, Lorenzo, Alfred and Ryan to get in there and draw some contact.”

Point guard Darren Collison said he’ll try to keep penetrating.

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“You can get them in foul trouble, so they’ll be out of the game. Or you can be under control and jump-stop,” he said.

“We’ve got to play our game. If we’re going to penetrate, we’re going to penetrate with aggression.

“If the defense gives us an opportunity to create for our shooters, I’m going to do that. If the defense gives me the opportunity to go to the basket, get them in foul trouble, I’m going to do that. We’ve got to keep in attack mode.”

Although Howland said the Lopez brothers do a good job of staying on their feet and not going for shot fakes, that’s not what some of the Bruins see.

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“That’s one thing I noticed,” Collison said. “They’ve just been going for every block. The shot fake is going to be real crucial for us. If Luc and Lorenzo can do some shot fakes and get them into foul trouble, that could be the key for us.”

Swingman Josh Shipp said the Bruins can’t be “reckless,” but he also said he believes the Cardinal players are vulnerable to going for the block.

“I think they’re jumping at everything,” he said. “If we can get them in the air, we can get them in foul trouble.”

Howland wouldn’t have minded having the Lopez twins in Bruins uniforms, and he tried to recruit them, to no avail: Their mother, Deborah Ledford, a high school German and math teacher in Fresno, is a Stanford graduate.

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“They were never, in my opinion, going anywhere but one place. It was a birthright,” Howland said.

*

TODAY

at Stanford, 5 p.m., FSN Prime

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Site -- Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto.

Radio -- 570.

Records -- UCLA 18-1, 7-1 in Pacific 10, Stanford 13-5, 5-3.

Update -- After upsetting No. 25 USC on Thursday, 65-50, Stanford has won five of its last six games, losing only to Oregon. The Cardinal’s 19 blocked shots against USC set a Pac-10 record, surpassing the 16 set by Arizona in 2000.

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robyn.norwood@latimes.com


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