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The California Golden Bears dominated their archrival Stanford Cardinal in their final home game at Haas Pavilion, leading for double digits most of the way and cruising to a 74-55 victory. Cal was led by Allen Crabbe, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and 5 assists; Harper Kamp had 20 points and Markhuri Sanders-Frison put up 13 points and 13 rebounds (six offensive) on Senior Day, making this Sanders-Frison’s final performance in front of the Cal faithful. Jorge Gutierrez added eight points, seven assists and four steals, and Richard Solomon chipped in six points in support.
With this performance, Cal improved to 10-8 in the Pac-10 and 17-13 after one of the most brutal schedules any major conference team has had to face. The Bears ended up locked into the #4/#5 game in the Pac-10 Tournament when Washington St. lost to UCLA, ensuring they’d play the USC Trojans in Staples Center Thursday at noon.
For more coverage, check out the California Golden Blogs.
The California Golden Bears will be happy to escape Oregon with a sweep of both teams. The victory over the Oregon State Ducks pretty much came after everything went right in the second half. As for the Oregon St. Beavers...well, let's just say they're not a very good basketball team.
Oregon St. came out on FIRE, putting up 30 points in the first 10 minutes. They would be limited to 41 points for the next 30. Still, OSU (one of the worst three point shooting teams in the country) nailed nine treys, four coming courtesy of Ahmad Starks, who led the Beavers with 18 points. But OSU could only nail shots for so long, and their gambling defense (12 steals in all) eventually bit back when Cal got easy bucket after easy bucket in the second half.
With Jorge Gutierrez looking spent offensively after playing three games in less than a week (six turnovers in all and only four field goals, although he did chip in nine assists, four steals and hit five free throws), Allen Crabbe was more than happy to shoulder the load. Crabbe nailed six three pointers and scored 26 points to lead all scorers, and helped the Bears overcome their SECOND 14 point deficit in as many games to mount yet another big comeback and simply wearing out an outmanned and outgunned Beaver unit. Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison combined for 28 points and 8 rebounds, Brandon Smith chipped in 9 points and 8 assists, and Richard Solomon came off the bench to add a crucial 8 points, 5 rebounds, and a blocked shot.
There was plenty of chippy play in a game that took forever to finish. Kamp got shoved by Jared Cunningham after Cunningham thought Kamp had cheap-shotted him when it just looked more like a size issue (Kamp is giving up around five-six inches and 40 pounds to the athletic but diminutive Beaver star). Brandon Smith stuck his chest into Calvin Haynes, leading to retaliation and plenty of smack talk on both sides (Sanders-Frison and Joe Burton also picked up Ts in the altercation).
For more reaction, head over to the California Golden Blogs.
The California Golden Bears looked like they were spent in the first half. Still probably hungover from a draining and emotional overtime victory over the UCLA Bruins Sunday night, Jorge Gutierrez and Cal came out flat, particularly on the defensive end, giving up 45 points in the first half. Joevan Catron and Tyrone Nared came out scorching, scoring 11 points apiece and pacing the Ducks to an early first half lead.
But Cal stepped up their game in the second half. Gutierrez snapped into action with 16 of his 23 coming in the final 20 minutes, and his effort seemed to galvanize the rest of his team. The Cal defense stepped up and clamped down the Ducks to 26 second half points. Allen Crabbe chipped in 13 of his 19 in the second half and Brandon Smith contributed 18 points while not missing a shot from the field or the line (5-5 FGs, 4-4 three point field goals, 4-4 FTs). Cal got timely three point shooting, nailing 10 treys from outside, and the Bears put up 47 to give Cal an 81-71 victory.
For more coverage of the Bears, check out the California Golden Blogs.
Jorge Gutierrez has played a lot of gutty games for the California Golden Bears, but it's hard to think of any game more impressive than tonight's performance against the UCLA Bruins. After Cal gave up a 13 point second half lead and trailed 53-52 with two and a half minutes remaining, Gutierrez took over, scoring 15 of the last 24 points for the Bears. He was involved in almost every crucial play down the stretch to lead Cal to a 76-72 overtime victory. Gutierrez scored seven of his points at the free throw line, and nailed four big shots to help tie or give Cal the lead down the stretch.
Gutierrez got some help from his teammates. Harper Kamp had a quite offensive night, but grabbed five offensive boards, including two in overtime (one of those led to the go-ahead-for-good points for Cal, the other led to a Markhuri Sanders-Frison layup that gave Cal a three piont lead with under a minute left). Cal finished with 16 offensive rebounds on the night. Sanders-Frison finished with 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting, and came up with a crucial steal near the end of regulation on a driving Reeves Nelson that ensured Cal wouldn't lose the game in regulation. Brandon Smith hit two threes down the stretch, including what turned out to be the game-clincher with 15 seconds left in overtime. Gutierrez sucked in the defense, kicked it out to Smith in the corner, who promptly drained a triple to make it a four point lead.
Cal nearly blew the game when Allen Crabbe didn't foul Malcolm Lee at the end of regulation, allowing Lee to hit a three that bounced once on the rim, took one hop up, and sliced down through the net to tie the game at the buzzer and send it into overtime. Lee finished with 19 points, but the Bruins couldn't overcome their 18 turnovers.
For more postgame reaction, head on over to the California Golden Blogs.
For more on the game from a Cal perspective, check out the California Golden Blogs.
Berkeley, CA (Sports Network) – Nikola Vucevic registered a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds as the USC Trojans held on to defeat the California Golden Bears, 78-75, in Pac-10 Conference action at Haas Pavilion.
Maurice Jones came up with a team-best 22 points on 5-of-6 shooting beyond the arc for the Trojans (14-12, 6-7 Pac-10) as they recorded their second win in three tries. Alex Stepheson had a double-double of his own for the visitors with 10 points and a team-best 11 boards.
The Golden Bears (13-13, 6-8) were paced by Mark Sanders-Frison with 23 points and 11 rebounds as the team fell for the fourth straight game. Harper Kamp had a double-double as well with 16 points and 10 boards, while double-digit scorers included Jorge Gutierrez with 13 points and both Brandon Smith and Jeff Powers with 10 apiece.
Cal made a total of just six field goals in the first half, converting a mere 1-of-6 behind the three-point line, leaving the hosts with a 33-22 deficit at the break.
In the second half the Bears rebounded with 57.6 percent accuracy from the floor and 11-of-12 at the charity stripe, but it simply wasn’t enough as USC slipped by with the three-point road win.
The Trojans hit on just 16-of-26 shots at the free-throw line, but the team made up for it with an 8-of-13 effort beyond the arc on the night.
GAME NOTES: Mired in a season-long slump, the California Golden Bears will look to get back on track tonight, as they welcome the USC Trojans to Haas Pavilion for a Pac-10 Conference clash.
The Trojans have also been sliding of late, as last Saturday’s 61-51 loss to Oregon marked their third setback in four games. USC now sits a 5-7 in Pac-10 action, and has posted just a 1-4 league road mark heading into tonight’s showdown.
California has now dropped three consecutive games to fall to 6-7 in league play. The mini slump comes directly on the heels of season-long four-game win streak. The Golden Bears are 4-2 in Pac-10 home games this season.
With respect to the all-time series, tonight’s matchup marks the 248th meeting between USC and California. The Golden Bears currently hold a 128-119 lead over the Trojans.
Typically the one to turn in a dominating defensive performance, USC was given a taste of its own medicine in Saturday’s loss to Oregon. The Trojans were limited to 19 first half points, as they converted just 8-of-31 field goal attempts over the first 20 minutes of action. For the game, USC shot just 36.8 percent from the floor and 15.8 percent (3-of-19) from three-point range. Forward Nikola Vucevic refused to go quietly. Despite being double and triple teamed for the majority of the night, Vucevic still managed to score 22 points and rip down 16 rebounds, which included seven offensive boards. He was the only Trojan to score in double figures. Typically it is USC that turns in dominating defensive performances. The Trojans sport the best scoring defense in the Pac-10 (62.9 ppg) and the second-best field goal percentage defense (41.4 percent). They are 9-0 on the year when holding opponents to less than 60 points. On the offensive end, the Trojans manage 66.4 ppg, as Vucevic leads the team in scoring (16.9 ppg) and rebounding 10.1 rpg).
California last took the court this past Saturday, falling 75-71 to Washington State to suffer its third straight defeat. The Golden Bears showed determination though. battling the Cougars down to the wire. Guard Jorge Gutierrez, who scored all of his team-high 19 points in the second half, missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with three seconds remaining to sink the Bears’ chances. Gutierrez was aided in defeat by Harper Kamp, who scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Jeff Powers, who scored 14 points of 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-6 from downtown. Cal was hurt by the absence of third-leading scorer Allen Crabee (12 ppg), who sat out after suffering a blow to the head in the Washington game. Kamp paces the squad at 14.9 ppg, while Gutierrez adds 13.8 ppg and has handed out a team-high 109 assists. The Bears score 71.7 ppg, but negate that effort by allowing 71.9 ppg on the defensive end.
USC and California already met once this season, with the Bears earning a slim 68-66 victory. It is likely that Cal will complete the season sweep tonight, utilizing homecourt advantage and a superior offense to earn the win.
GAME NOTES: Mired in a season-long slump, the California Golden Bears will look to get back on track tonight, as they welcome the USC Trojans to Haas Pavilion for a Pac-10 Conference clash.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (12,000) — Berkeley, California. Television: None. Home Record: USC 10-4, California 9-5. Away Record: USC 2-7, California 3-5. Neutral Record: USC 1-1, California 1-2. Conference Record: USC 5-7, California 6-7. Series Record: California leads, 128-119.
Thursday, February 17th, 10:30 p.m. (et)
California 71, USC 65
The California Golden Bears look to break out of the 6-6 log-jam in the Pac-10 as they travel to Pullman, Washington to face the Washington State Cougars. Cal is tied with WSU and Stanford in fourth place at 6-6 in conference play. Stanford travels to Washington in a game that would potentially tighten up the third place race in the Pac-10. Head over to California Golden Blogs to check out norcalnick’s scouting report on the Cougars.
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears have made their way to Pullman for a Pac-10 Conference clash with the Washington State Cougars. On Thursday, Cal was embarrassed by Washington, falling to the Huskies in a 109-77 final. The Golden Bears have now allowed more than 100 points in two consecutive outings and they are 13-11 overall, a mediocre 6-6 in league action, and a game below .500 in true road games (3-4).
Losses in three of the last five outings have seemingly dropped Washington State out of the race for the Pac-10 title, as the club is now 6-6 in conference, overshadowing a much more impressive 16-8 overall record. Like the Golden Bears, the Cougars were in action on Thursday, as they fell to Stanford in front of a deflated home crown, 75-62.
Cal beat Washington State in overtime back on January 13th, 88-81, and the Golden Bears own a 72-45 advantage in the all-time series.
The most obvious reason that California was blown out by Washington two days ago was poor defense, as the Golden Bears permitted the Huskies to shoot 56.6 percent from the field, including a 17-of-31 effort from three-point range. Cal actually earned a 19-6 edge in points from the foul line in the contest, but the squad committed 16 turnovers was outrebounded as well. Jorge Gutierrez led the way in the setback with 24 points, while Mark Sanders-Frison and Jeff Powers chipped in 13 points apiece. Kamp shoots 53.4 percent from the field and is averaging 14.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg. Gutierrez checks in with 13.6 ppg and a team-high 106 assists, and he is tops with 36 steals as well. Allen Crabbe (12.0 ppg) and Sanders-Frison (10.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) add balance to the lineup for the Golden Bears, who are both scoring and surrendering the exact same average (71.8 ppg).
Washington State’s Klay Thompson is capable of taking over any game at the offensive end of the court. The standout is generating 20.9 ppg on the strength of his 41.3 percent shooting from three-point range, and the fact Thompson also contributes 5.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 47 steals and 26 blocks speaks to his tremendous versatility. Faisal Aden (13.1 ppg) and DeAngelo Caston (11.1 ppg) add balance to the lineup for the Cougars, who are netting 73.2 ppg while surrendering 65.2 ppg. The fact that WSU is limiting foes to 38.6 percent field goal efficiency is impressive by any standards. Casto was sensational against Stanford two days ago, as he knocked down 10-of-11 shots from the floor and finished with 22 points. Unfortunately, the rest of the team combined for just 12 field goals. Thompson netted 12 points in defeat.
In a game that figures to be close from start to finish, give a narrow edge to Thompson’s squad. The Cougars will make just enough plays at both ends of the court to edge the Golden Bears.
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears have made their way to Pullman for a Pac-10 Conference clash with the Washington State Cougars.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beasley Coliseum (11,671) — Pullman, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: Cal 9-5, WSU 9-3. Away Record: Cal 3-4, WSU 4-4. Neutral Record: Cal 1-2, WSU 3-1. Conference Record: Cal 6-6, WSU 6-6. Series Record: California leads, 72-45.
Saturday, February 12th, 6:00 p.m. (et)
Washington State 70, California 66
Seattle, WA (Sports Network) – Isaiah Thomas scored a 23 points and dished out nine assists to lead the Washington Huskies to a 109-77 win over the California Golden Bears in a Pac-10 Conference showdown at Bank of America Arena.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies (16-7, 8-4 PAC10), while C.J. Wilcox chipped in with 14 points in the win. Justin Holiday also got involved, netting 12 points, while Scott Suggs and Terrence Ross checked in with 11 points apiece.
The Golden Bears (13-11,6-6) were paced by Jorge Gutierrez, who scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a losing effort. Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Jeff Powers added 13 points apiece for California.
Washington took control of the contest in the first half, shooting 59.5 percent from the floor to take a 58-34 lead at the break.
The Huskies put the game away in the second stanza, knocking down 7-of-14 three-point attempts, en route to a 32-point victory.
Three-point shooting proved to be the difference in this contest, as the Huskies outscored the Golden Bears 51-6 from long distance.
It looked like the California Golden Bears were about to pull off a huge upset against the Arizona Wildcats as they led 75-70 with 42 seconds left off a layup by Harper Kamp. But a three by Kevin Parrom cut the lead to 75-73, and after Brandon Smith only made one of two free throws on a foul that disqualified big man Derrick Williams, Lamont Jones drove to the rim, got fouled by Markhuri Sanders-Frison (fouling him out) and got the and-one layup to tie the game and send it into overtime number one.
The first overtime was a back-and-forth affair, although Arizona took an 87-83 lead off a Jones layup and two Brendon Lavender free throws. But Allen Crabbe hit two free throws and nailed a driving leaner on a spin move to tie the game at 87 and send it to double overtime. Harper Kamp hit a huge shot to give Cal the lead late in the second OT and Richard Solomon scored on an offensive board putback to give them a three point lead, but Jones nailed a pull up jumper to tie the game and send it into triple overtime.
Arizona eventually prevailed after Jones made his layup, Smith missed his, and Kamp missed a jumper that would've tied the game in the final seconds. Jones scored 27 points and Parrom scored 25 points; Williams had a relatively quiet 12 points, although he did grab 18 rebounds. Kamp had a career high 33 points and 10 rebounds, Crabbe had 27 points and 7 boards, and Jorge Gutierrez had 25 points (although he did turn the ball over six times) before fouling on.
For more on the game, check out the California Golden Blogs for postgame reaction.
Jorge Gutierrez was born to participate in a contest like the Cal's narrow 66-62 victory over the lowly Arizona St. Sun Devils. It was a hard fought game cluttered with poor shooting, struggling offense, numerous free throw trips, and pretty strong defense. This was a classic Jorge game, and despite his struggles shooting (four of 13 from the field, one of seven from beyond the three point arc), he went to the line and drilled nine of ten free throws to notch his 18 points to lead all Golden Bears.
He also chipped in seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Two of those passes found Brandon Smith and Allen Crabbe for the two dagger threes that gave Cal lead the good, and essentially ended the game with seconds left. In every respect, it was Jorge’s night.
But he wasn’t alone in tonight’s contest. Crabbe couldn’t shoot the ball at all (his three at the end of the game to give Cal that deadly four point lead), but managed six rebounds and got five of the seven crucial free throws in the span of a minute to cut an eight point lead to two with five minutes to go—his ploy to draw Ty Abbott into three free throw shots was totally pro. With both Gutierrez and Crabbe misfiring from outside, Smith had to come up with some big shots, and nailed five of nine to finish with eleven points.
It was a quiet night for Harper Kamp (only two for four shooting from the field), but he made his impact felt defensively by grabbing four of his seven rebounds in the final minutes, then making the huge block on the potential go-ahead jumper by Trent Lockett with under a minute left to set up Crabbe’s finishing three (and Kamp could have fouled out if he hit Lockett anywhere, so a gutsy play there). Markhuri Sanders-Frison chipped in his customary 13 points on five of eight shooting, but also seven big rebounds and four on the offensive glass.
Credit should go to Lockett and Jamelle McMillan, who hit 11 of Arizona State’s 22 baskets and scored 32 of the Sun Devils 62 points; their impressive shooting display nearly won ASU the game. But Cal won this game with their ability to get to the line and make free throws. The Bears shot 24 for 29 from the charity stripe compared to 8 of 12 for ASU, and did just enough to eek this one out.
For more reaction, head over to the California Golden Blogs for more game reaction.
The California Golden Bears won their third straight game as they defeated the Oregon Ducks 85-77 at Haas Pavilion. After blowing an apparent victory against UCLA, Cal has run off wins at USC, versus Oregon State, and now versus Oregon. Cal received an incredibly balanced effort in their victory today as they received 13+ points from four different players. Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Allen Crabbe led the team with 18 points apiece.
The victory improves Cal to 12-9 and 5-4 in the Pac-10. They are now half a game ahead of USC (currently losing at Arizona) and Washington State (inactive today). They trail UCLA by a game, Arizona by 1 1/2 games, and Washington by 3 games.
Although Cal is not that far above .500, they’ve still got a fairly decent RPI ranking (57th) courtesy of the number twelve schedule in the country. With nine games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Bears have a chance to get themselves onto the bubble. Cal faces the last place Arizona State Sun Devils at Haas Pavilion next Thursday, followed by a home game with the Arizona Wildcats. That’s followed by a road game at Washington which makes this arguably the most important stretch of games for Cal.
For more from the Cal perspective, head over to the California Golden Blogs.
Berkeley, CA (Sports Network) – Harper Kamp scored a game-high 18 points, leading four starters in double figures, as the California Golden Bears cruised to an 85-57 win over the Oregon State Beavers in a Pac-10 Conference showdown at Haas Pavilion.
Jorge Gutierrez added 16 points and a game-high 11 assists for the Bears (11-9, 4-4 Pac-10) as they won their second straight outing. Mark Sanders- Frison chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds and Allen Crabbe 12 points and another seven boards for the hosts.
The Beavers (8-11, 3-5) were paced by Jared Cunningham who tallied 15 points as he shot 11-of-12 shots at the free-throw line. Devon Collier tacked on 14 points, Lathan Wallace 12 and Calvin Haynes 10 points off the bench in the team’s second straight setback.
California shot a strong 53.8 percent from the floor in the first half, compared to just 36.7 percent for the visitors, which allowed the Bears to take a 36-26 lead at the break.
In the second half OSU continued to struggle and made a mere eight field goals in the period, en route to the 28-point setback.
The Beavers finished the night shooting only 3-of-18 out on the perimeter and turned the ball over 17 times.
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears welcome the Oregon State Beavers to Berkeley tonight for a Pac-10 Conference battle.
Losses in four of the last five games have dropped Oregon State to 8-10 overall and 3-4 in Pac-10 action. Last Saturday, a poor offensive showing led to a 63-59 loss to Oregon in front of a disappointed home crowd. Now, the Beavers must play on the road where they are just 1-5 thus far.
Like Oregon State, California was in action last Saturday, and the Golden Bears managed to halt a two-game skid with a 68-66 victory over USC. That thrilling win enabled Cal to improve to 10-9 overall, and the team can even its conference mark at 4-4 with a victory tonight.
California owns a 75-60 series lead over Oregon State, but the Beavers have won three of the last four meetings.
Jared Cunningham has been the most productive player for Oregon State this season, as he is scoring 14.3 ppg on the strength of his 43.8 percent shooting from three-point range. Perhaps even more impressive than Cunningham's scoring output is his work at the defensive end, as he has already recorded 56 steals. Calvin Haynes is the only other double-digit scorer for the Beavers, as he checks in with 10.2 ppg. Oregon State is generating 72.5 ppg while surrendering an almost identical 72.4 ppg this season. In conference games alone, however, the Beavers are being outscored by nearly four points per contest. Against rival Oregon last Saturday, Oregon State shot just 38.5 percent from the field, including a lackluster 5-of-20 showing from three- point range. At the defensive end, the Beavers permitted the Ducks to knock down 50 percent of their field goal attempts. Lathen Wallace scored 15 points in the loss for Oregon State, which also got 11 points from Roberto Nelson.
Harper Kamp is currently playing his best ball of the season for California. The standout forward has led the club in scoring in three consecutive outings, and he is fresh off a 19-point effort against USC last Saturday. He got help from the trio of Mark Sanders-Frison, Brandon Smith and Allen Crabbe, as all three players netted 12 points. The Golden Bears hit 5-of-9 three-pointers in the tilt and finished with a 17-9 edge in points from the foul line, two obvious contributing factors in the triumph. Kamp is scoring 14.4 ppg on 53.3 percent shooting from the field, and he is ripping down 5.6 rpg through 19 outings. Jorge Gutierrez, who has started all 19 games alongside Kamp, checks in with 11.9 ppg and 77 assists, while Crabbe adds 11.5 ppg. Sanders-Frison provides 10.2 ppg for the Golden Bears, who are netting 68.6 ppg while allowing 68.9 ppg.
Considering Kamp's play in the last three games, Cal has to be considered the favorite tonight. Expect the Golden Bears to pull away in the second half.
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears welcome the Oregon State Beavers to Berkeley tonight for a Pac-10 Conference battle.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (12,000) -- Berkeley, California. Television: FSN, CSN-Bay Area, MSG+. Home Record: Oregon St. 7-5, Cal 6-4. Away Record: Oregon St. 1-5, Cal 3-3. Neutral Record: Oregon St. 0-0, Cal 1-2. Conference Record: Oregon St. 3-4, Cal 3-4. Series Record: California leads, 75-60.
Thursday, January 27th, 11:00 p.m. (et)
California 76, Oregon State 65
One of the keys outlined in tonight's college basketball matchup between the California Golden Bears and the USC Trojans was who would win the battle in the paint between the bigs. It was Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison who won the battle, particularly Kamp's duel with the intimidating Nikola Vucevic. Kamp scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and helped foul out Vucevic (who had 10 rebounds but only six points on 2 of 8 shooting). Meanwhile Sanders-Frison (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Alex Stepheson (8 points, 6 boards) battled to a standstill, but it was Kamp's production that put the Bears over the top. Cal managed 26 points in the paint to USC's 22, and that proved to be just enough of a difference.
Other contributors stepped up as well. With Jorge Gutierrez still in a shooting funk, Brandon Smith stepped up and nailed two three pointers, and hit of four of seven from the field en route to a much needed 12 points. Allen Crabbe helped get the offense going early (although he tailed off near the end, partly due to fatigue), finishing with 12 points as well. Bak Bak provided a much needed seven points off the bench and was the catalyst for Cal's 22-6 run to end the first half.
Still, the Trojans had a chance to win at the buzzer. Donte Smith went off, nailing eight field goals, all three pointers. Cal missed four free throws down the stretch, any of which would have probably iced the game, and a crucial Smith turnover with plenty of time left on the shot clock gave the Trojans a chance to cut into a six point deficit. As it was, Jio Fontan got the ball and fired at the end, but his last second shot was partially blocked by Crabbe.
The Bears improve to 10-9 on the season and 3-4 in Pac-10 play, as they won their first ever game at the Galen Center. The Trojans fall to 11-9 and share the same record with Cal in conference.
The California Golden Bears and USC Trojans exchanged runs in the Galen Center. Cal started the game with an 8-2 lead. USC responded with a 14-0 run to make it 16-8 Trojans. But then Cal responded with a 22-6 run to end the first half to take a surprising 30-22 halftime lead.
The 2-3 zone defense the Golden Bears have been running has totally flustered the Trojans. Other than Alex Stepheson shooting three for five and getting six points, the remaining USC players have been totally shut down, shooting 5 for 23 and turning the ball over seven times, leading to six Cal points. Nikola Vucevic has missed all five of his shots from the field and has three fouls to deal with in the second half. Donte Smith, Jio Fontan, and Marcus Simmons also committed two fouls each.
Allen Crabbe leads the way with eight points on 3 of 6 shooting and Cal's only two three pointers. Bak Bak has been surprising off the bench, scoring six points and using his length to fluster outside shooters. Additionally, the Bears have managed to take care of the ball (three turnovers to USC's seven). Using a three big lineup featuring Bak, Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison was key to fueling the closing run for Cal in the second half.
To follow the game with Cal fans, go to the California Golden Blogs gamethread!
After a heartbreaking loss to UCLA, Cal prepares for an even stiffer test at the Galen Center. In a conference filled with strong defensive teams, the USC Trojans are one of the stiffest foes, thanks to the big men inside. Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson are arguably the best big man duo in the conference; they should give Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison all sorts of trouble with their rebounding ability on the defensive side on the floor and shooting effeciency on the offensive end. Norcalnick at the California Golden Blogs points out how poorly the Bears have handled Pac-10 big men this season, and it's not likely to change tonight.
If Cal is going to win this one, they'll need to play better three point defense than they did against the Bruins. UCLA knocked down 10 threes on Thursday, and they needed all of them to pull off the victory. USC is one of the better three point shooting teams in the conference though, so don't expect it to get any easier for the Bears. The only thing that Cal might have in their favor is that the Trojans are just as thin as they are depthwise after the transfer of Bryce Jones, so neither team will really have much of an advantage going to their bench.
The big question is whether the Bears can start hitting jump shots earlier than four minutes left in the second half. Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe did not get many clean looks on Thursday, and it isn't expected to get better at the Galen Center. If they can't, be prepared for the Trojans to pack the paint if Kamp or Sanders-Frison get going.
The California Golden Bears were dead in the water. Despite shooting lights out for most of the second half, they couldn't stop the UCLA Bruins either inside in the paint or outside behind the three point arc. Cal was trading twos for threes on too many possessions, as their 41-35 deficit widened to 73-59 after Tyler Honeycutt nailed the final of his four three pointers with four minutes to go.
Then Markhuri Sanders-Frison nailed a shot. 12 point game. Malcolm Lee fouled Allen Crabbe for two free throws; Lee, who had held Crabbe to four points the entire game, had fouled out. Crabbe hits two free throws. Ten point game. Honeycutt throws a lazy bounce pass to Cal's Richard Solomon, leading to a fastbreak layup for Crabbe. Eight point game. UCLA's Lazeric Jones and Cal's Harper Kamp trade points. Seven point game. Jones turns the ball over to Gutierrez. Five point game. UCLA though makes three free throws in a row to make it an eight point lead with a minute left.
But it's not over. Richard Solomon dunks the ball with 50 seconds left. Six point game. UCLA can't inbound the ball and are out of timeouts, so they get called for a five second violation. Crabbe hits a jumper four seconds later. Four point game. Honeycutt turns the ball over again to Solomon running down the court, and Solomon gets fed by Crabbe for another dunk to make it a two point game with thirty seconds left.
After Jones and Crabbe trade points to keep it at a two point game, Jones misses one of two free throws to make it a three point game. Crabbe then nails a three with thirteen seconds left on an assist from Jorge Gutierrez to tie the game. So to recap, after scoring 23 points in 200 seconds (and 13 points in the final 50), Cal manages to tie the game up with UCLA at 84. Crabbe led the way with 13 of those points, including nine of the last thirteen and the game-tying three (the first Cal had made all day).
Tyler Honeycutt then attempted a wild jumper that Kamp defended very well that clanked off the iron, and Cal looked like they'd have overtime in their grasp...except no one blocked out Reeves Nelson, who came in for the putback tap-in with barely any time left. Comeback dashed, and a brutal loss after a valiant run by the Bears.
Wild, dramatic and heartbreaking all at once. That was what Cal's loss to UCLA was like.
Reeves Nelson is taking control for the UCLA Bruins against the California Golden Bears. Nelson has a couple of fastbreak points to go along with solid post work, shooting 5 of 7 from the field and leading UCLA scorers with 12 points. Both Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt have hit two threes each and have eight and seven points apiece to support Nelson; Lazeric Jones adds seven points as these four starters have paced the Bruins early on.
For Cal, Harper Kamp has been the show for the Bears. Kamp has hit five of his eight field goals, whether on post moves or jumpers, and has also nailed five free throws. He leads all scorers with 15 points and has four rebounds to go along with that. Richard Solomon and Brandon Smith have six points in support, but Allen Crabbe and Markhuri Sanders-Frison have been relatively quiet due to foul trouble (both have two fouls), and Jorge Gutierrez has struggled. Honeycutt and Brendan Lane for UCLA have two fouls apiece.
The most curious stat: Cal has only shot one three; UCLA is six for 13. If the Golden Bears weren't able to hit their free throws (13 for 18 compared to 5 for 10 for the Bruins), they'd probably be further behind than 41-35.
To watch the game with Cal fans, go to the California Golden Blogs gamethread.
The California Golden Bears are finishing off a brutal start to Pac-10 conference play that has elevated their overall strength of schedule to 2nd toughest in the country. They had to start January with a three game roadtrip, including a decisive defeat to their rivals in Palo Alto in the Stanford Cardinal, a close but bitter loss to Derrick Williams and the Arizona Wildcats after the transfer of Gary Franklin, and an equally narrow but strong win over the Arizona St. Sun Devils. After Cal overcame an impressive performance by Klay Thompson to beat the in overtime, the at home Washington Huskies came into Haas Pavilion on Sunday and blew the doors off a fatigued and overmatched Golden Bears squad.
So now Cal heads back on the road to cap off their incredibly difficult seven game start in the conference. Although neither the UCLA Bruins or USC Trojans are playing particularly dominant basketball, the Bears will be underdogs in both games and probably can only hope to salvage a split. A split would be very satisfactory though, as the Bears were predicted to go 2-5 in their opening stretch. An additional win would push them to 3-4 and above those previously low expectations.