Despite the USC Trojans playing two very close games against the California Golden Bears, they've never been a great matchup for Cal because of their length inside and quick guards who could get dribble penetration. Cal is a skilled team, but they're not very athletic, and it doomed them on Thursday afternoon in their hopes for an NCAA tournament bid. The Trojans prevailed in a 70-56 victory over the Bears.
Maurice Jones and Donte Smith had all sorts of penetration as they both caused havoc inside for the Cal defenders. Cal's big men came to double-team outside on pick and roll situations and Jones and Smith had no trouble getting inside and either scoring at will or kicking it out for open threes. Jones had 16 points, Smith added 14 points, and Alex Stepheson put in 14 points and 16 rebounds (5 offensive boards).
Cal's ball-handlers also had all sorts of trouble on offense, as Jorge Gutierrez and Brandon Smith combined for 13 turnovers. Gutierrez, Harper Kamp, and Markhuri Sanders-Frison combined to shoot 6 of 25 from the field. Allen Crabbe led the Bears with 21 points.
USC will face Arizona in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals and hope to add legitimacy to their NCAA at-large chances. Cal is likely bound for the NIT.