Cal moved from No. 21 to No. 19 in the latest Associated Press top 25. There are five Pac-10 teams in the poll. The latest BCS standings will be released later today.
Here’s my story from this morning’s editions on Patrick Christopher, whose performances have been something of a barometer for Cal’s success.
The Golden Bears continue to get a lift from redshirt sophomore forward Omondi Amoke, who now averages 7.0 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds.
Amoke had a career-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench Tuesday against Jacksonville, after posting his first career double-double with 11 points and a personal-best 15 rebounds in 25 minutes against Ohio State. That’s a two-game average of 13.0 ppg and 11.5 rpg in barely 21 minutes per outing.
“He’s been a great spark,” teammate Patrick Christopher said. “He does it every day in practice. He knows what we need out of him, and if he just continues to do that, we’ll be all right. (We need) his enthusiasm and having an nose for the ball, and he’s scoring.”
Coach Mike Montgomery, acknowledging that Amoke’s natural position at just under 6-foot-7 is small forward, added, ”Omondi can do some things at that 4 position. He’s kind of a hybrid.”
With power forward Harper Kamp (knee) and small forward Theo Robertson (foot) both on the shelf again today when the Bears face Princeton at Haas Pavilion, expect Amoke to continue to get minutes. The Bears’ depth is being tested, but Amoke is providing energy and production.
With the Secret Service watching . . .
AROUND THE PAC-10
– Oregon State (2-3) got 18 points from Seth Tarver and scored a 64-57 win over George Washington at Washington D.C., in a game attended by President Barack Obama and his family. The Beavers, of course, are coached by Craig Robinson, whose sister Michelle is the First Lady. The Beavers jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the way to snapping a two-game losing streak.
– Klay Thompson set a Great Alaska Shootout record with 43 points, leading Washington State (6-0) to a 93-56 rout of San Diego in the tournament’s championship game. A 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, Thompson shot 8-for-13 from 3-point range on the way to breaking Glenn Robinson’s 1993 single-game record of 41 points. Thompson is averaging 28.3 ppg. Update: Mike Tokito of the Oregonian reports that Thompson’s point total is the highest by a Pac-10 player since Stanford’s Casey Jacobsen scored 49 against Arizona State in 2002.
– Oregon (4-2) is halfway to its victory total of all last season after an 89-66 win over Montana State. Teondre Williams led six players in double figures with 19 points. Senior guard TaJuan Porter (ankle) sat out the game.
THE NATIONAL SCENE
No. 2 Michigan State (5-1) shook off a loss to Florida the night before to shoot 60 percent in a 106-68 rout of Massachusetts at the Legends Classic at Atlantic City, N.J. Coach Tom Izzo won his 341st game, breaking Jud Heathcote’s school record . . . No. 6 Purdue (5-0) held Central Michigan to 28.3-percent shooting in a 64-38 victory . . . No. 4 Villanova (6-0) beat La Salle 81-61 for its 20th win in the past 21 games against Big 5 Philly rivals . . . Guard Jason Clark scored 19 points to lead six players in double digits as No. 18 Georgetown (4-0) ripped Lafayette 97-64 . . . Oscar Bellfield scored 17 points, leading UNLV (5-0) to a 76-71 home upset of No. 16 Louisville (4-1).
WHY DO THEY PLAY THESE GAMES?
Coastal Carolina 97, Allen 44 . . . South Dakota 100, Dana 65 . . . Prairie View 101, Champion Baptist 38 . . . Loyola-Ill. 81, St. Ambrose 42 . . . No. 17 Ohio State 104, St. Francis, Pa., 47 . . . Nuff said.
Dominic Calegari, a senior forward from St. Mary’s HS in Berkeley, scored a season-high 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds, leading UC Davis to a 60-58 road win over Ball State. Calegari is averaging 21 points over the past three games . . . Senior guard Robert Owens of Skyline HS in Oakland had totaled 12 points in three previous games, but erupted for a career-high 22, leading San Jose State to a 59-54 win over Pacific . . . Former St. Mary’s of Berkeley star Larry Gurganious had eight points and 10 rebounds in UC Riverside’s 59-58 win over Sacramento State.
Better than a 27-point loss to Portland, but . . .
AROUND THE PAC-10
– UCLA (2-3) fell below .500 for the first time in the Ben Howland era after a 69-67 loss to No. 12 Butler at the 76 Classic in Anaheim. Nikola Dragovic scored 14 points for the Bruins, who rallied from eight points down in the final minutes, but Butler’s Gordon Hayward made two FTs with 1 second left to win the game,
– Arizona State (5-1) allowed LSU to shoot 60 percent in the first half, then held the Tigers to 20 percent the rest of the way in a 71-52 victory in the consolation final of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. Senior guard Derek Glasser scored a career-high 24 points and center Eric Boateng added 17.
– USC (2-1) got 15 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic in a 74-43 win over Coppin State.
– Washington State (5-0) stayed unbeaten under first-year coach Ken Bone with a 78-69 victory over winless Nicholls State in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout. Klay Thompson scored 21 points and DeAngelo Casto contributed 18 points and 14 rebounds.
THE NATIONAL SCENE
– In a battle of Hall of Fame coaches each with 800 wins, Mike Krzyzewski (839 wins) and No. 7 Duke (6-0) easily dispatched Jim Calhoun (809) and No. 13 UConn (4-1) by a 68-59 margin in the NIT Season Tip-Off championshp game in New York . . . Florida (5-0) upended No. 2 Michigan State (4-1) at the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, N.J., winning 77-74, despite 20 points from Kalin Lucas . . . Lazar Hayward scored 22 points and Marquette (6-0) upset No. 15 Michigan 79-65 in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. Manny Harris scored 22 for the Wolverines (3-1) . . . All-America center Cole Aldrich had 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, leading No. 1 Kansas (5-0) to a 112-75 rout of Tennessee Tech . . . Star-on-the-rise Wesley Johnson scored 26 points and Syracuse (6-0) blasted Columbia 85-60 . . . On the heels of dismantling UCLA, Portland (6-0) knocked off No. 22 Minnesota 61-56 in the 76 Classic at Anaheim.
Weber State guard Damian Lillard, a sophomore from Oakland HS, had a season-high 23 points in an 87-70 loss to BYU. Lillard is averaging 19.4 ppg through five games. Lillard, who shot 4-for-8 from 3-point range, also had four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Here’s our second installment of 20 Questions with a Cal player.
Position: Power forward
Hometown: Los Angeles
Your five-man Dream Team, including yourself in the lineup: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center, me at power forward, LeBron James at the 3, Michael Jordan at the 2 and Jason Kidd at the point.
Age when you first dunked: I was in the seventh grade. I was 12 years old. I did it in front of my house and I remember going inside and telling my brother, `You have to come out. I can dunk now.’
How tall you really are, if the doctor measured you barefoot: 6-7
How many pairs of basketball shoes you own: Rough estimate: 15.
Coolest place you’ve been to play basketball: Madison Square Garden
Unusual place you’ve never been that you’d love to visit: I would love to visit Mars. Or maybe the moon or someplace in space.
While we were gorging on turkey Thursday, UCLA lost again. This time by 27 points to Portland in the opening round of the 76 Classic in Anaheim.
Yes, Portland (4-0) is a decent club. The Pilots, coached by former Stanford aide Eric Reveno, recently beat Oregon, and they’re picked to finish in the top three of the West Coast Conference.
But . . . the loss was the most one-sided suffered by UCLA (2-2) since a 79-48 defeat at Oregon on March 1, 2003., during former coach Steve Lavin’s final season.
The Bruins, who shot just 32.7 percent in the 74-47 defeat, hadn’t been held to so few points since a 59-43 loss to Gonzaga on Nov. 24, 1999 — 10 years and two days earlier. UCLA’s three starting guards combined to shoot 6-for-23 with nine turnovers and 10 fouls.
Most shocking is UCLA’s failure against teams it routinely dispatches.The Bruins lost to Cal State Fullerton, 68-65 in double-overtime, on Nov. 17.
In six previous seasons under Ben Howland, the Bruins were 42-2 in pre-conference games against teams from non-BCS conferences. The two defeats were to 11th-ranked Memphis in 2005-06 and to UC Santa Barbara during the 2003-04 non-conference schedule, Howland’s debut season.
Now UCLA has lost twice to non-power schools in the same season, with a difficult matchup looming tonight against No. 12 Butler, coming off an 82-73 loss to Minnesota.
The fifth Old Spice Classic, set for the 2010 Thanksgiving weekend at the Milk House at Disney’s Wide World of Sports® Complex near Orlando, Fla., will include Cal.
ESPN announced the field, which also will include Boston College, Georgia, Manhattan, Notre Dame, Temple, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.
No pairings were announced for the tournament, which will be held on Nov. 25, 26 and 28.
AROUND THE PAC-10
– Stanford (3-3) battled No.5 Kentucky (6-0) on even terms most of the night before falling 73-65 in overtime at the Cancun Challenge in Mexico. Stanford senior Landry Fields played all 45 minutes, contributing 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Jeremy Greene scored 18 points, taking just one minute off. Freshman guard John Wall scored 26 points for the Wildcats. The game was just the third meeting between the schools and the first since the 1998 NCAA tournament semifinals, won 86-85 in overtime by Kentucky.
– Senior Nic Wise shot just 4-for-13 from the field as Arizona (3-2) lost 84-72 to Vanderbilt in the fifth-place game at the Maui Invitational. Wise, coming off a 30-point performance in a win over Vanderbilt, finished with nine points. Freshman Solomon Hill scored 17 points.
– Arizona State (4-1) suffered its first defeat of the season, but acquitted itself nicely in a 64-53 loss to Duke (5-0) in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. Derek Glasser and Trent Lockett each had 13 points for the Sun Devils, who trailed by just four points at halftime.
– Check out Washington State: 4-0 under new coach Ken Bone after getting 25 points from Klay Thompson in an 87-68 win over Alaska Anchorage in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout. Former Bishop O’Dowd HS star Brandon Walker, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, led the Division II Seawolves with 27 points.
– UCLA senior Nikola Dragovic, suspended for two games after an arrest for assault, was reinstated by coach Ben Howland, who said Dragovic will play in Thursday’s 76 Classic in Anaheim against Portland.
THE NATIONAL SCENE
Top-ranked Kansas (4-0) won its 44th consecutive home game — the longest streak in the nation — with an 89-59 win over Oakland. Marcus Morris and Xavier Henry each had 19 points for the Jayhawks . . . UConn (4-0) moved into the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off against Duke after an 81-59 rout of LSU. Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker each had 20 points for the Huskies . . . Gonzaga (5-1) handed Cincinnati (4-1) its first defeat, winning 61-59 in overtime in the championship game of the Maui Invitational.
Ex-Cal star Jason Kidd moved into the No. 2 spot on the NBA’s career assist list Wednesday night.
The one-time St. Joseph’s HS standout has 10,337 assists after collecting seven in the Dallas Mavericks’ 130-99 win over the Houston Rockets. Kidd passed Mark Jackson (10,334) and trails only John Stockton, who stands alone at 15,806.