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Beavers Climbing Pac-10 Ladder

If Oregon State's 62-58 win over USC earlier in the season didn't turn heads, people are now paying attention to what's going on in Corvallis after the Beavers pulled off the seemingly-improbable Bay Area sweep. 

Oregon State got by Cal 69-65 on Thursday, putting away the Bears in the final ten minutes of the game. This was California head coach Mike Montgomery after the game:

"If you want to simplify it, we went 2-for-11 the last seven minutes of the game and we weren't able to get stops," Montgomery said. "Put very simply, it was no more complex than that. The last 10 minutes of the game they did everything they needed to do and we didn't."

The Beavers won in a different fashion on Saturday, when they jumped out to a 16-2 lead in the first 5:40 against Stanford, and never fell behind. 

Four Pac-10 coaches are in there first year this season, with Craig Robinson being one of them. He's now defeated Mike Montgomery and Johnny Dawkins, and could nab the other one next week when UA and their first-year head coach Russ Pennell come to town. The Wildcats have two Pac-10 wins this season, compared to Oregon State's there. 

People around the nation are taking note of the success Robinson is having at Oregon State. We're beginning to see that these wins aren't flukes, they're hard-fought, well strategized games, that are mostly won on the practice court. 

San Francisco Gate beat-writer Jake Curtis had this to say after Oregon State's win over Stanford:

Those who did not see Oregon State's 77-62 victory at Stanford on Saturday would assume the Cardinal must have played horribly.

Not so. The Cardinal did not have their best game by any means, but they did not lose the game as much as it was taken from them by Oregon State, which shot 62 percent from the field and executed exceptionally well under first-year coach Craig Robinson.

Oregon State is clearly not the same team that went 0-18 in conference play last season. Nor is it the same team that lost to Howard in its season opener. And it did not resemble a team that was pegged as a 17-point underdog Saturday.

"Having watched them on tape, you could see the potential," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "It was a matter of it all coming together for them tonight."

After the loss, Stanford now finds themself in a do-or-die situation, with UCLA and USC scheduled for this week. Says the Mercury News' Darren Sabedra:

It was an especially crippling defeat for the Cardinal, which travels to USC and UCLA this week. If Stanford (13-4, 3-4) doesn't win one in Los Angeles - a very tall order - it will be 3-6 halfway through the Pacific-10 Conference season.

The Cardinal managed Thursday without injured point guard Mitch Johnson (bruised calf) in a rout of hapless Oregon. But there was no surviving without Johnson against Oregon State, which gave the Cardinal fits with its 1-3-1 zone and torrid shooting (31 of 50, 62 percent).

Bob Condotta, the Husky beat-writer for the Seattle Times, has the Beavers ranked sixth in his weekly Power Poll. Stay tuned for my ballot, which will be published after the votes from other Pac-10 are tabulated. He puts Stanford at sixth, and Cal at fourth.

More as the day rolls on. And don't forget-- the Beavers are playing Cal State Bakersfield tonight at Gill in their final non-conference game of the year. 

--Jake (