Just in case you were wondering, we did the math: If Jerome Randle could score for an entire game at the pace he did Thursday night against Arizona when he put up 17 points in 4 minutes, 24 seconds, he’d have 154 points.
Our research department tells us that would be a record.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery’s explanation: “That’s what he does.”
Well, not the 154 points part exactly.
No, the part where the 5-foot-8 senior point guard finds just the right moment in the game, unleashes a holy flurry of points and rips the other team’s heart out.
“If he gets open shots and he’s feeling it,” Montgomery allowed, “it’s pretty much going to go down. But the same thing is with Pat and Theo.
“He didn’t necessarily play better — he shot better,” Montgomery said of Randle’s second-half outburst in the Bears’ 95-71 victory. “So then, of course, those 3s — bang, bang, bang. It makes us very difficult to defend.”
Monty actually missed a “bang,” as Randle hit four 3s during that span, but the point is the same: If the guy gets going, look out.
It’s hard to imagine Randle and his teammates won’t be floating just above the floor at Haas Pavilion this afternoon when the Golden Bears face second-place Arizona State with a chance to lock up at least a tie for their first Pac-10 championship in 50 seasons.
The noon tipoff will be preceded by Senior Day ceremonies that are sure to get all the moms crying. The Bears have five seniors, seemingly more than the rest of the Pac-10 combined. They were the reason Cal was picked four months ago to win the league, and they’re the reason it could happen today.
The five of them — starters Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson, Jamal Boykin and reserve Nikola Knezevic — combined to score 81 points against Arizona. They have 5,556 in their Cal careers.
There is no reason to believe they will be nervous or uptight today. If that was going to happen, it would have occurred on Thursday, and a 41-17 lead after 14 minutes suggests the Bears were ready to play.
Still, Montgomery knows the equation today is potentially complicated.
“Generally, when we prepare ourselves mentally, if we can keep our focus on the job at hand, doing what we’re supposed to do, we can be pretty good. And that’s going to be the challenge,” he said. “One of the risks you run is there’s a lot of things going on with Senior (Day) . . . and if we win that game, we have at least a share of the conference championship . . . so there’s a lot there.
“We’ve got to focus on playing basketball and not get caught up in the periphery stuff. Emotion can be good, but it also can be troublesome. We want to make sure the emotion leads to energy. When we’re good, we play hard, we play together, and we’re focused on just winning the basketball game. That’s what we’ve got to do (today).”
ASU SCOUT: Cal isn’t the only team playing at Haas today with a chance to win a Pac-10 title. The Sun Devils never have won a regular-season conference crown since joining the Pac-10 for the 1978-79 season. ASU’s most recent league title was a share of the 1975 WAC crown with a team featuring future NBA standout Lionel Hollins. This team was supposed to go nowhere, not after the loss of All-America guard and NBA lottery pick James Harden and all-conference forward Jeff Pendergraph.
But Herb Sendek has delivered a coach-of-the-year performance transforming this underrated squad — ASU was picked just seventh in the pre-season Pac-10 poll — into a legitimate contender. The Sun Devils are stout defensively, allowing just 58.5 ppg, and two veteran guards lead the way. Senior PG Derek Glasser is the school’s all-time assist leader and a gritty leader. Junior Ty Abbott, who has had games of 20, 25 and 30 points over the years against Cal, is a leading contender for the league’s most-improved player award. Abbott is averaging 17.2 ppg over the past 13 outings, leading ASU to a 10-3 record over that span.
Senior center Eric Boating, who transferred from Duke the same year Jamal Boykin made his way from there to Cal, scored a career-high 24 points at Stanford on Thursday, making all 11 of his field-goal attempts to tie a Pac-10 record for conference games. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the first game vs. Cal.
Cal had its way with the Sun Devils in Tempe last month, finding a crease in their zone defense to get the ball inside to Boykin, who scored a career-high 25 points. But there’s a lot more riding on this one. For both teams.
THE COMPUTER: Cal’s standing in RealTimeRPI.com remained unchanged at No. 24 after its win over Arizona. ASU climbed two spots to No. 54 on Friday morning.
THE SERIES: ASU holds a 35-33 all-time lead over Cal. The home team won both games a year ago.
LAST TIME: Cal won 78-70 in Tempe last month, led by 25 points apiece from Randle and Boykin, and 21 from Christopher.
MISCELLANY: Randle’s 24 points on Thursday boosted his career total to 1,726, leaving him exactly 50 behind Cal recordholder Sean Lampley (1998-01), who was in the crowd Thursday night. Randle is 14th all-time in Bay Area Division I history and needs just 13 points to move up three spots on the list . . . He needs three more 3-point baskets to break his own year-old school record of 82 . . . Boykin is just seven rebounds shy of 500 for his Cal career . . . Christopher has played in 127 games for the Bears and will tie Keith Smith’s all-time record when he steps on the floor today . . . Our friends at the Daily Cal point out that the Bears are 7-0 in the Pac-10 when Boykin scores in double figures . . . Montgomery said he will go with his usual lineup on Senior Day today, rather than put reserve Nikola Knezevic into the starting group simply because he’s a senior.
WHERE: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley.
CAL (19-9, 11-5)
Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Theo Robertson 6-6 Sr. 14.0 4.6
PF Jamal Boykin 6-8 Sr. 11.5 6.6
SF Omondi Amoke 6-7 So. 4.6 4.6
SG Patrick Christopher 6-5 Sr. 15.8 5.5
PG Jerome Randle 5-8 Sr. 19.4 4.5*
G Jorge Gutierrez 6-3 So. 5.6 3.2
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison 6-7 Jr. 3.3 3.3
G Nikola Knezevic 6-3 Sr. 2.2 0.3
Arizona State (20-8, 10-5)
Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Rihards Kuksiks 6-6 Jr. 11.7 3.2
C Eric Boateng 6-10 Sr. 8.7 6.6
SG Trent Lockett 6-4 Fr. 7.4 3.6
SG Ty Abbott 6-3 Jr. 12.4 4.5
PG Derek Glasser 6-1 Sr. 10.5 5.0*
G Jamelle McMillan 6-2 Jr. 6.8 3.5
G Josh Shipp 6-3 Sr. 4.0 2.2
* – Assists