Long-time Cal fans may recall two previous chances over the past 50 seasons — actually both were in the past 16 years — that the Bears had chances on the final weekend of the regular season to either clinch a tie for the Pac-10 title or move into a share of first place.
– 1993-94: It was March 12, final day of the regular season, and Cal arrived for its game at Washington State with a 13-4 record. Arizona was 14-3, but lost 94-87 at Arizona State, opening the door for Cal to claim a piece of the title. Lamond Murray scored 38 points — I swear, he made at least one shot from the right corner without even looking at the basket — and Jason Kidd had 23. But the rest of the team shot 3-for-11 and Eddie Hill scored 27 for a good WSU team, which rallied for a 94-82 win. Cal and UCLA wound up tied for second at 13-5.
– 2005-06: It was March 2, at home vs. UCLA, the second-to-last game of the Pac-10 schedule. The Bruins were in first at 12-4, but Cal was tied for second, just one game back at 11-5. A win and the Bears would have moved into a tie for first with one game left. Theo Robertson, a freshman at the time, hit a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to force overtime, but the Bruins won 67-58, scoring the final 20 points of OT. Leon Powe had 20 points, but Cal wound up in third place at 12-6.
Different set of circumstances today, different players, different coach, different opponent, different time.
We’ll see what happens in less than three hours.
Here’s my story from this morning’s edition, taking you back 50 years ago to the day, when Cal clinched its most recent conference title with a 62-47 win at Oregon State.
Visiting Arizona State, seeking its first conference title in 35 seasons, will be ready to go, too. “This is as big as it gets,” said ASU senior point guard Derek Glasser.