UCLA blows out Cal for first win at Haas Pavilion since 2010

BERKELEY, Calif. — For a moment in UCLA’s 86-66 win Wednesday night, Cal breathed in hope.

With less than four minutes left until halftime, senior point guard Justin Cobbs hit a running floater against heavy contact. He pumped his fist, and headed to the line. He hit the free throw.

What had been a double-digit Bruin lead less than three minutes ago was cut to four.

It would be Cobbs’ only field goal of the first half. He missed an 18-footer on the Bears’ next possession, and UCLA unleashed a 7-0 run in 88 seconds. The Bruins walked into the locker room with a commanding 44-32 lead, and never felt threatened again through the remaining 20 minutes.

Powered by Jordan Adams’ game-high 28 points, UCLA led by as much as 27 and never by less than nine after the break. Continue reading

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What to watch: No. 23 UCLA at Cal

No. 23 UCLA (20-5, 9-3) at Cal (17-8, 8-4)
When:
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks (JB Long, Don MacLean, Ashley Adamson)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Which Cal team will show up? The Bears may be the Pac-12′s most perplexing team. They gave USC its lone Pac-12 victory after winning five straight to start conference play, only to turn around 10 days later and knocked off undefeated Arizona. They then proceeded to lose to Stanford at home by 11 points.

Cal is trending up a bit again with dominant road win at Washington, but the Huskies are on track for their worst record in six years. The Bears do score 59.1 percent of their points on 2-pointers — the second-highest mark in the league — so they’ll need 6-foot-10 forward Richard Solomon to establish himself inside and the rest of the team’s jumpers to fall. In eight losses this season, Cal shot 40.8 percent from the field, down nearly six from their season average.

On paper, UCLA enters tonight with the clear edge. The Bruins have suffered lapses this season, but that’s happened most often on the back end of road trips. Even if they get off to a slow start, they’ve proven that they can flip the switch coming out of halftime.

No. 2: Cal’s fifth starter. The Bears haven’t found a consistent contributor to finish out its first-string unit, with Jordan Mathews, Jabari Bird and Ricky Kreklow getting 12, nine and seven starts, respectively. Injuries to Bird and Kreklow disrupted the lineup for weeks, but the former has seen the court just 29 minutes in his past three games — hardly building off his 12-point second half against UCLA. Continue reading

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Notes: Steve Alford talks Norman Powell’s breakout

Junior guard Norman Powell has steadily improved every part of his game since he arrived at UCLA, but his most dramatic jump this season has come on offense. Still the team’s best man-to-man defender, the San Diego native has bumped his 2-point shooting to 66.4 percent, up from 57.8 last season and 40.5 the year before that.

In conference games, the Bruins rank seventh inside the arc at 48.3 percent, a middling performance that stems at least in part from the roster’s dearth of dominant big men.

Arizona, first in the category, has three starters making more than 56 percent of their 2-point shots. The only UCLA player that clears that mark besides Powell is Tony Parker at 59.8 percent. David Wear and Travis Wear average 52.8 and 46.9 percent, respectively.

Powell scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting in Sunday’s 76-64 win against Cal, an unspectacular but crucial contribution across 30 minutes — the most he has played against a conference opponent.

Head coach Steve Alford talked about Powell’s “breakout year” after the win, pointing out his propensity for driving down the lane and drawing fouls.

That becomes more important in the context of the team as a whole. UCLA’s 37.7 percent free-throw rate ranks just 10th in the conference, and 245th in the country. Powell’s 36.8 percent isn’t exactly hauling that number up, but besides Kyle Anderson (50.0) and Jordan Adams (49.4), he is the best option for generating trips to the line. Continue reading

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UCLA beats Cal, moves into second-place Pac-12 tie

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. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Former Ute succumbing to cancer

– Bronzell Miller might be dead by the time you read this. The former Utah linebacker is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and may only have a week left to live.

– Bellevue standout and UCLA recruiting target Budda Baker is still waiting for the release of his brother Robert, imprisoned for first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm.

– How did Tad Boyle turn Colorado into a contender?

– “But the difference between being a head football coach in college and the NFL is like the difference between Wal-Mart and Wall Street.” Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Should USC hire Ed Orgeron?

– After an upset of Stanford, many USC players called for the school to retain Ed Orgeron as head coach. NBC Sports’ Chris Huston, also known as the Heisman Pundit, argues against removing the “interim” tag.

– Utah quarterback Travis Wilson’s career might be over after a post-concussion exam revealed a pre-existing neurological condition.

– Washington State has extended Mike Leach through the 2018 season.

– Arizona State’s secondary has a club called the, uh, “Bird Gang.” Members must abide by three rules. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Utah quarterback Travis Wilson struggling

– Once a rising star, Utah’s sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson doesn’t look the same these days.

– A strong column from the Arizona Daily Star’s Greg Hansen, on the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA.

– After a stint at Louisiana-Monroe, Arizona State defensive back Robert Nelson is living the dream in Tempe.

– Does the Pac-12 need an injury report? Seattle Times columnist Bud Withers says yes, citing the status of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Cal running back hospitalized after fight

» A fight between Cal running back Fabiano Hale and an unnamed player sent the former to the hospital last Friday. University police know who the suspect is, but have not disclosed his name and did not say whether charges will be filed. Hale is now home recovering from a concussion, and does not remember being taken to the hospital.

A source told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Hunter Hewitt that coaches asked players to “deal with” Hale for oversleeping a practice, and that it took two hours for his parents to be notified that he was in the hospital. Cal disputed those allegations.

» At an average price of $183, tickets to Stanford’s home game against Oregon on Thursday could be the most expensive ever in program history.

» Oregon guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter were suspended indefinitely for selling team gear. Continue reading

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Cassius Marsh sorry for losing temper, drawing ejection

Defensive end Cassius Marsh apologized Wednesday for swinging at a Cal player this past weekend and getting himself ejected at the Rose Bowl.

The senior committed back-to-back offsides penalties in the second quarter, then reacted when the Bears’ lineman swung at him. UCLA won 37-10, but his three penalties helped set up the Bears’ lone touchdown. Though he was clearly baited, Marsh downplayed that as a mitigating factor.

“It was my fault,” he said. “It was my mistake for reacting. There’s no excuse for my actions. I let down my team, I affected my team, I hurt my team. That’s never OK. I felt horrible about it. It’s a hard thing for me. I’m sure you guys know, it’s been something I’ve been working on my whole career. I will continue to do so. Continue reading

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Notes and quotes: UCLA 37, Cal 10

UCLA hardly looked unstoppable in its 37-10 win over Cal Saturday, but it did enough to earn its place as a top-10 team.

Some notes from the night:

– The defense held Cal to a season-low 320 offensive yards. The Bears’ 10 points were the lowest of Sonny Dykes’ (relatively short) head coaching career. If not for some untimely penalties, the Bruins might have kept Cal out of the end zone entirely.

The front seven continued its run as one of the conference’s best, sacking true freshman quarterback Jared Goff three times and coming up with clutch stops. Safety Randall Goforth had an interception, while cornerbacks Ishmael Adams and Fabian Moreau combined for three pass breakups. Continue reading

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