Look for the Bears to try getting out of the blocks faster against UCLA on Sunday night than they did Thursday against USC.
Cal had plenty of second-half chances to beat the Trojans, but coach Mike Montgomery called the team’s first-half performance “ridiculous.”
“Whatever the reasons, we just didn’t come out ready to compete,” Montgomery said.
“If we play hard on defense, the offense has to come,” senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison said. “They were way more physical than us in the first half.”
Cal made just two of its first 17 shots and trailed 33-21 at halftime.
The assignment against UCLA will be more difficult, and the circumstances increasingly desperate.
The Bears have lost four in a row for the first time in three seasons and they need to string together a couple victories just to be in the conversation for the NIT. A third straight trip to the NCAA tournament is a faded dream.
UCLA arrives at Haas Pavilion having won seven in a row and 10 of 11.
“They’re finally starting to figure out what Ben wants,” said Montgomery, referring to UCLA coach Ben Howland. “Ben’s got a pretty good handle on what each guy can do.
“What I’ve seen from them is they’re really moving the ball much better. The ball’s not getting stuck in one place. One guy is not trying to make all of the plays.”
CRABBE UPDATE: Freshman guard Allen Crabbe has missed the past two games after suffering a concussion a week ago Thursday at Washington. Montgomery said early in the week he expected Crabbe to play against USC, but he did not dress.
Averaging 15.2 ppg in Pac-10 games, Crabbe participated in non-contact drills during practice on Friday. But there is no definitive word on his status for UCLA and he likely will be evaluated again prior to the game before a decision is made.
UCLA SCOUTING REPORT: The Bruins have lost just once game since Jan. 9, but they’re hardly overpowering opponents. UCLA won 69-65 at Stanford on Thursday, its sixth single-digit victory in its past 10 wins. But the Bruins have figured out roles, and they have talent everywhere in their lineup. Sophomore Reeves Nelson has been difficult for Cal to handle, and his flying tipin at the buzzer beat the Bears 68-66 last month at Pauley Pavilion. Sophomore Tyler Honeycutt hasn’t consistently shot the ball well, but he’s a good rebounder and passer and made 4 of 8 shots from 3-point range at Stanford. Junior shooting guard Malcolm Lee finally has found his rhthym this season and freshman center Joshua Smith, all 6-10, 305 pounds of him, has scored double digits in six of his past seven games. “They’ve got a lot of players,” Montgomery said.
THE SERIES: UCLA leads 132-97 after its 86-84 win at last month at Pauley Pavilion, where Reeves Nelson scored the game-winning tipin at the buzzer after Cal furiously rallied from 14 points down in the final 4 minutes. The Bears won two of three last season.
TIPOFF: 7 p.m. Sunday at Haas Pavilion. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (13-13, 6-8)
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||15.0||5.8|
|C Markhuri Sanders-Frison||6-7||Sr.||11.1||7.4|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||12.0||5.5|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||13.8||4.3*|
|PG Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||5.6||3.8*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||5.3||4.2|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||So.||2.5||2.6|
|G Jeff Powers||6-7||Fr.||6.1||1.4|
UCLA (19-7, 10-3)
|PF Reeves Nelson||6-8||So.||13.8||8.7|
|C Anthony Stover||6-9||Fr.||0.6||1.5|
|SF Tyler Honeycutt||6-8||So.||12.6||7.8|
|SG Malcolm Lee||6-4||Jr.||13.4||3.0|
|PG Lazeric Jones||6-0||Jr.||10.3||3.5*|
|C Joshua Smith||6-10||Fr.||10.7||6.4|
|G Jerime Anderson||6-2||Jr.||4.9||2.9*|
|F Brendan Lane||6-9||So.||3.2||3.6|