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Basketball: USC game thread

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Cal wins 81-78. Christopher inbounded the ball off the back of Hackett (oops) Dwight Lewis with 9.2 seconds left, then was fouled and made both FTs with 5 sesconds left. Hackett missed a 3-point try at the buzzer. Christopher finished with a career-high 29 points. Cal is 21-7 overall, 10-5 and part of a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10. USC, now 16-11, 7-8 in the conference, needs to win its final three regular-season games and make some noise in the Pac-10 tournament to have any chance of an NCAA bid.

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0:09.2 OT: Daniel Hackett just hit a 3-pointer, and Cal’s lead is 79-78. Cal called timeout.

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0:16.4 OT: Gutierrez made both FTs and Cal leads 79-75. USC ball.

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0:17.2 OT: Daniel Hackett just made a layup and FT, pulling USC within 77-75. The Trojans immediately fouled Jorge Gutierrez, who will shoot two FTs after the timeout.

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1:13 OT: Cal leads 75-71 after a layup by Boykin with 2 minutes left and a fall-away jumper by Christopher with 1:14 remaining. Christopher has 25. USC just called timeout.

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WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME: Randle missed a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer and we’re playing 5 more minutes. It’s 65-all.

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0:09.9: Cal just called timeout . . . and the score it still tied at 65-all. USC ran the clock to 15 seconds before Marcus Simmons tried a shot inside which appeared to be deflected by Harper Kamp. Cal rebounded and called  timeout. Randle, who came out for the defensive sequence, will return to the floor.

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0:39.6 2nd H: USC just called timeout with the score tied at 65-all. Randle missed a tough, off-balance shot moments ago as Cal has struggled to run its offense the past few minutes.

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5:41 2nd H: Cal’s lead, which was 59-47 after two free throws by Jorge Gutierrez with 8:16 left, is down to 61-56. The Trojans have outscored the Bears 9-2 over the past 3 minutes, and are closer than they have been since the start of the second half. It’s getting tense in here.

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7:49 2nd H: Cal leads 57-47 after a reverse layup by Jorge Gutierrez. USC just called timeout to avoid a 3-second call in the lane against Dwight Lewis.

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11:31 2nd H: Cal leads 53-43 after two FTs by  Randle. Christopher has 21 points to lead Cal. Hackett has 14 for USC.

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15:58 2nd H: Cal has pushed its lead to 44-34, biggest of the night. The Trojans missed two FTs to open the half and have misfired on six straight shots from the field. Dwight Lewis, their leading scorer, is 0-for-5 against Christopher’s defense. Christopher has 19 points and Cal continues to shoot well at 61.5 percent.

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HALFTIME: Cal leads 38-34. Christopher has 16 points for Cal, which is shooting 65.2 percent from the field and shot the Trojans out of their zone by going 5-for-7 from 3-point range. Gibson has nine points for USC, but Cal has done a decent job doubling him at the post, able to drop a defender off DeMar DeRozan, who cannot shoot from the perimeter. The Bears’ real problem on defense has been the Hackett vs. Randle matchup, where Hackett has used his eight-inch height advantage to score 12 fist-half points. USC, with a 13-8 rebounding advantage, is shooting 51.9 percent, but is 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.

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3:32 1st H: Cal leads 32-27, but held a nine-point lead just minutes ago. The Bears have solved the USC zone and are 5-for-7 from 3-point range. Christopher has 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting. Randle has nine points. Taj Gibson has nine points and four rebounds for USC.

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THIS SCORE JUST IN: Washington State defeated Arizona 69-53, dropping the Wildcats to 8-7 in the conference stnadings, currently a game-and-a-half behind Cal.

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7:36 1st H: Cal leads 22-19, but has not scored a field goal since USC went to a zone defense four possessions ago. USC has outscored the Bears 6-1 since, chopping a 21-13 deficit to three points. Hackett is giving Cal trouble, taking the smaller Randle inside and shooting over him. He has eight points.

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11:02 1st H: Cal leads 19-13. The Bears are 3-for-3 from 3-point range, five days after shooting 3-for-20 at Oregon State. Hoem cooking. Randle has two 3-pointers, Christopher one. Wilkes is playing well with his protective mask — he has a basket and four assists. Daniel Hackett just picked up his second foul for the Trojans, and Christopher will be shooting two FTs. Cal is shooting 8-for-11, USC 5-for-14.

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15:58 1st H: Cal leads 7-5 after a dunk by Jamal Boykin. Randle hit a 3-pointer to get Cal on the board before Jordan Wilkes threw an alley-oop pass to Patrick Christopher for a dunk.

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LINEUPS: Jordan Wilkes is in the starting lineup, along with the usual contingent of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin. USC also is starting its regular group.

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WILKES UPDATE: Jordan Wilkes, who suffered a concussion a week ago tonight at Oregon, is warming up with the Bears. He’s wearing a protective mask over his broken nose, but we have but no official word on whether he will play. The starting lineups flashed onto the computer monitor here at press row in Haas Pavilion showing Harper Kamp in the starting lineup. Then the lineups disappeared. Stay tuned.

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RECORDS: Cal is 20-7 overall, 9-5 in Pac-10; USC is 16-10, 7-7.

Jeff Faraudo