UCLA is now tied for second place in the Pac-12, after a 76-64 win over Cal that saw one big man disappear and another rise.
Three days after scoring a career-high 22 points against Stanford, sophomore Tony Parker was a non-factor early on, picking up two fouls in 85 seconds and sitting most of the first half. He picked up his fourth foul with 11:58 left in the second half, and headed to the bench again.
He finished the game with a rebound, an assist and a missed shot.
His team hardly missed him. It was David Wear who starred, shaking off an illness earlier this week to score a career-high 18 points. He hit 6-of-10 from the field, including two 3-pointers, as well as four free throws. He added seven rebounds.
The Bruins (16-4, 5-2) cleaned up the glass in the first half, holding a 21-13 edge at the break.
The advantage followed what has been a downward trend for Cal (14-6, 5-2). On the season, the Bears had a rebounding margin of +4.0 to UCLA’s 3.7. In their six Pac-12 games, however, they only held a +1.0 edge, trailing the Bruins’ +2.7 average.
With over seven minutes left until the break, twin forwards David and Travis Wear — who entered Sunday averaging just 6.9 combined rebounds — had already collected nine rebounds, matching the entire Cal squad.
It helped that Cal shot itself into an early hole. The Bears shot 34.5 percent in the first half, then went nearly eight minutes into the second without a field goal.
The drought finally ended when freshman Jabari Bird hit a 3-pointer with 12:17 left in the game. UCLA led 51-38 at that point.
Bird, a five-star recruit who is coming off an ankle injury, missed his only shot of the first half, but erupted late to give Cal one last gasp.
He scored 12 points in less than 11 minutes, pushing his Bears on a 17-4 run. At 9:16, the Bay Area native finished a 3-point play and cut his team’s deficit to 53-50.
It wasn’t enough. The lead had inched up again to five when Bird head to the bench a minute later for a breather. When he took to the court again, he couldn’t rediscover the magic.
With over five minutes left, he picked up his fourth personal foul on a charge, handing the ball back to UCLA. The Bruins quickly turned a seven-point lead into a nine-point cushion, and never felt truly threatened again.