Basketball: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: Cal 68, USC 66. After losing twice by two points on the road in Pac-10 play, including Thursday night at UCLA, the Bears (10-9, 3-4) pulled one out by the same margin. Kamp’s two free throws on an intentional foul by Jio Fontan with 3:06 left, followed by a hook shot by Sanders-Frison on the ensuing possession was the game’s biggest sequence. The four-point play gave Cal a 62-57 lead. The Bears missed four of their final six free throws, but held on for their first win in five tries at the Galen Center. Kamp had 19 points, Brandon Smith, MSF and Crabbe each had 12. USC (11-9, 3-4) got a career-high 24 points from senior guard Donte Smith, on 8-for-12 shooting from the 3-point arc. Call’s big lineup and zone defense limited Vucevic and Stepheson — who combined for 30 points and 20 rebounds against Stanford — to 14 and 16. Having played five of their first seven conference games on the road, the Bears return to Haas Pavilion for four straight, beginning Thursday against Oregon State.

4:01 2nd H: Kamp has scored on consecutive possessions against USC freshman Garrett Jackson and Cal leads 58-54. A 6-0 Cal run and USC called timeout to get Vucevic — with four fouls – -back into the game. MSF also has four and is on the floor. Cal has switched back to man to stay with Donte Smith.

8:50 2nd H: A new game. Cal leads just 50-49 after another 3-pointer by D. Smith — he’s 7 for 10 from deep — and an uncontested layup by PG Jio Fontan. Cal isn’t helping itself with a recent spate of turnovers.

11:54 2nd H: Crabbe hit a 3-pointer and has 11 points. But Maurice Jones answered with a drive to the basket and was fouled by Richard Solomon. He’ll shoot one with Cal leading 48-41. Donte Smith has 18 points on 6 for 9 from deep. Cal has just three turnovers.

14:17 2nd H: Suddenly it’s the Smith Show. Donte Smith has hit 3-pointers on USC’s past three possessions, cutting Cal’s lead to 43-36. D. Smith has 15 points. In the meantime, Brandon Smith hit one for the Bears and has 12 points — three of his career-high.

16:40 2nd H: Brandon Smith just hit an open 3-pointer off a pass from MSF and Cal leads 38-27. Kevin O’Neill called timeout for the Trojans. USC scored on its first two possessions of the half, but has failed to cash in on its past four. The zone is giving them trouble. They are 3 for 13 from deep.

HALFTIME SCORE: Cal 30, USC 22. The Bears closed with a 19-4 run after trailing 18-11 and take an eight-point into halftime. USC scored just four points on its final 10 possessions of the half. Cal improved to 37 percent, making seven of its final nine shots in the half after starting 4 for 18. USC is shooting 28.6 percent with seven turnovers against a zone defense that the Bears went back to after Donte Smith hit those two 3-pointers. The Trojans missed their other nine 3-pointers. Rebounding is 22-16 USC. Crabbe has eight points to lead Cal. Vucevic has three fouls for USC.

3:31 1st H: Cal leads 21-20 after a 10-0 run brought the Bears back from an 18-11 hole. The Bears cashed in three fastbreak opportunities, two of them off USC turnovers. Alex Stepheson just scored to bring USC within one. Both teams shooting 32 percent. USC still leads 20-14 on the boards. But the Trojans have six turnovers to two for Cal. An uneven game, but the Bears may have weathered the stretch where they could not score.

5:43 1st H: A putback by Kamp and fastbreak layup by Crabbe off a steal/pass by Gutierrez and Cal trails just 18-15. Still shooting only 6 for 22 — up to 27 percent.

6:54 1st H: USC leads 16-11. Cal went eight possessions without scoring as USC ran off 12 straight points before Kamp made one of two FTs with 8:16 left. Bak Bak came in and scored on a putback that got Cal within five points. Cal is shooting 4 for 19 — 21.1 percent!  Trojans have a 19-12 rebounding edge. 

11:51 1st H: Donte Smith hit another 3-pointer for the Trojans, who lead 10-8. USC is on an 8-0 run and has chased Cal out of its zone defense. Cal is shooting 3 for 13. So are the Trojans, for that matter. Rebounding is 13-7. Richard Solomon entering the game for Kamp.

12:59 1st H: Cal leads 8-5 after a 3-pointer from USC’s Donte Smith. Two teams are shooting a combined 5 for 23. USC’s size already proving a problem — Trojans are bottling up the Bears inside and have an 11-7 rebounding edge.

13:55 1st H: Cal leads 8-3 in what has been a dreadful offensively display so far. Crabbe just hit a 3-pointer for the Bears, who are shooting 3 for 10. USC is 1 for 11, including 0 for 5 from 3-point.

LINEUPS: Cal will start Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Harper Kamp, Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez and Brandon Smith. USC goes with Alex Stepheson, Nikole Vucevic, Marcus Simmons, Maurice Jones and Jio Fontan. In other words, no surprises.

WELCOME: We’re here at the Galen Center just off The 110 (in SoCal it’s mandatory to employ the article “the” before the freeway number), where the Golden Bears (9-9, 2-4) take on USC (11-8, 3-3). Cal has not won in four previous tries in this building. The Trojans are coming off an impressive 65-42 dismantling of Stanford; Cal lost 86-84 at UCLA. Will be back with lineups.

Jeff Faraudo