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Basketball: Cal unveils its all-time team

First of all, let me say I am a big Tony Gonzalez fan. Greatest tight end in Cal football history, greatest tight end in NFL history.

And he could play some hoops. But to name him to Cal’s 100th anniversary all-time team — as Cal fans have done — well, put it this way, Tony didn’t make the all-time team I assembled back in December.

Hey, I was there when Gonzalez pushed around, outplayed and flat embarrassed future NBA standout Tim Thomas in Cal’s 1997 NCAA Tournament win over Villanova. Gonzalez had 23 points and held Thomas to 11 on 5-for-12 shooting.

Gonzalez played hoops because he loved the game, but by the time he reached Cal it had become a diversion for him while he prepared for a career in the NFL. Gonzalez played three seasons of basketball, averaging 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Here’s who was left off the list to make room for Gonzalez: Jackie Ridgle, a 6-foot-4 powerhouse forward who played from 1969 through ’71, scoring at least 400 points all three seasons.

Ridgle came to Berkeley from Arkansas, where the Razorbacks were recruiting him to help break the color line in SEC basketball. Instead, he chose Cal where he became a player whose career scoring average of 17.9 points is third-highest in school history among players who played more than two seasons.

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Basketball: Post-USC reading

Here’s my story from the Friday editions after Cal’s overtime defeat of USC that boosted the Bears into a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10 standings. Quite a game.

(Note: My apologies for a mistake in the fourth paragraph. Patrick Christopher inbounded the ball off the back of USC’s Dwight Lewis, not Daniel Hackett, as virtually all of us along press row believed).

And from the L.A. Times, a look at how USC’s NCAA Tournament hopes are fading.

Cal 81, USC 78, OT

  HEADLINER: Junior guard Patrick Christopher, coming off a 3-for-15 shooting performance in Cal’s loss at Oregon State last Saturday, made his first six shots from the field, then scored eight points in overtime, finishing with a career-high 29 points.  

  MOMENT THAT MATTERED: There were so many of them. But kudos to freshman Jorge Gutierrez, who continues to show himself as a clutch player after making two FTs with 16.4 seconds left in overtime, pushing Cal’s lead to 79-75. Had he missed just one of them, Daniel Hackett’s ensuing 3-pointer would have tied the score for USC. Instead, the Bears retained a one-point, and Christopher iced the win by hitting two FTs with 5 seconds left.

   MAGIC NUMBER: 16 _ The number of consecutive free throws the Bears made to finish the game, including 8-for-8 in the overtime period. Cal wound up 24-for-27 from the line, compared to 16-for-28 by the Trojans.

   NEXT UP: The Bears (21-7, 10-5) play their home finale Saturday at 6 p.m. against three-time defending Pac-10 champion UCLA (21-7, 10-5). The Bears and Bruins share second place with Arizona State, and Cal certainly has the rougher road ahead, with two games in Arizona next weekend. Both UCLA and ASU finish up at home. But on Saturday, the Bears will rely on their 16-1 record at Haas Pavilion, a sellout crowd and the chance to possibly — if all falls right — move within a half-game of the conference lead. If you don’t have a ticket, the game will be shown on ESPN.

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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.

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Basketball: Only 1 Pac-10 player chasing Oscar

Arizona State sophomore guard James Harden is the only Pac-10 player listed among 15 finalists for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Oscar Robertson Trophy, given to the national player of the year.

Here’s the conference breakdown: Big East (4), ACC (3), Big 12 (3), Pac-10 (1), SEC (1), Big Ten (1), C-USA (1), Southern (1), and the official news release on the finalists.

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Basketball: Pre-game reading

Here’s my story from this morning’s editions on the importance of the Bears’ game tonight vs. USC, given the treacherous road that lies ahead on Cal’s schedule.

Also, here is Chris Foster’s story in the L.A. Times with the USC perspective on things.

It’s a big night in the Pac-10, and the biggest game takes place in Seattle, where first-place Washington faces second-place Arizona State. Here are previews on that game from the Seattle Times and the Arizona Republic.

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Basketball: USC scouting report

There are very few surprises at this point in the season, and the Golden Bears know pretty much what to expect Thursday night from USC.

“We’ve played everybody. We know what they’re going to do,” point guard Jerome Randle said. “SC is definitely going to try to take me out of the game. Other guys are going to have to step up and make plays. I’m not the only one out there.”

USC coach Tim Floyd has used a lot of triangle-and-two defense this season, but against the Bears last month in Los Angeles the Trojans pressured the perimeter, gave Cal’s big men some space inside and pretty much gambled it wouldn’t cost them.

Ultimately, it didn’t. USC won 73-62 by effectively neutralizing Cal’s long-range shooters. The Bears were 2-for-16 from 3-point range.

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Basketball: Randle’s mom pays timely visit

 Just in time, Jerome Randle’s mom will come to the rescue this weekend.

Zsa Zsa Miller will make her second trip this season to the Bay Area from the family home in Chicago to provide moral support and home cooking for her son.

“I need those meals. Definitely,” Cal’s junior point guard said this week. “My favorite meal is red beans and rice, sweet potatoes, corn bread and chicken.”

That’s one meal, not a week’s worth.

“That’s a hard meal to make,” Randle said. “I can make the rice. That’s about it.”

Maybe mom’s recipe is what Randle needs to put behind him last Saturday’s loss at Oregon State. Either that, or another helping of analysis of her son’s game.

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