With two weeks left in the regular season, the Bears (14-13, 7-8) are tied for sixth place with Washington State (17-10, 7-8). Oregon and USC are tied for fourth at 7-7, just a half-game ahead. So there are countless possibilities.
Let’s look at one: Who gets the No. 6 seed for the Pac-10 tournament if Cal and WSU finish tied for sixth?
This is critical because the No. 6 seed avoids the Wednesday “play-in” games — 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9.
The Bears currently own the tiebreaker over the Cougars. Cal and WSU split two games and neither beat first-place Arizona. So Cal’s win over second-place UCLA supercedes WSU’s victory over third-place Washington — as long as UCLA finishes ahead of UW in the final standings.
Here is Cal’s schedule the rest of the way: at Oregon, at Oregon State, vs. Stanford.
And WSU: at Washington, vs. USC, vs. UCLA.
Would say Cal has an easier road, but this isn’t over. Oregon and USC are very much part of the equation, and so is Stanford, one game back at 6-9.
Here’s my game story from this morning’s editions and some leftovers worth chewing on:
— Jorge Gutierrez’s career-high 34 points were the most scored by any Pac-10 player this season other than Washington State’s Klay Thompson, who’s had games of 35 and 36 (the latter against Cal).
— Gutierrez became the 34th player in Cal history to score at least 30 in a game. Teammate Harper Kamp had 33 against Arizona.
— Cal teammates hadn’t each scored 30-plus points in the same season since the the 1976-77 campaign when Gene Ransom had his 36-point effort in the five-overtime win over Oregon and Ray Murry had a pair, including 41 points against Stanford.
— The Bears snapped a six-game home losing streak to UCLA, beating the Bruins at Haas Pavilion for the first time since 2004. They had knocked off UCLA five times in L.A. in the meantime.
FINAL SCORE: Cal 76, UCLA 72. Gutierrez made two more FTs with seven-10ths of a second left, finishing with a career-high 34 points. Fans on the court. And all Jorge Gutierrez probably wants is a place to sit down. Cal improves to 14-13, 7-8 and tied for sixth place with Washington State. UCLA is 19-8, 10-4, two full games back of first-place Arizona.
0:14.1 OT: Cal leads 74-70 after a 3-pointer from the right corner by Brandon Smith off a pass by . . . Gutierrez. Gutierrez drove to the lane, drew most of the UCLA defense, then dished to Smith, who was all by himself. Swished it. Cal timeout.
0:43.6 OT: Cal leads 71-70. Gutierrez made the first — he has 32 points — and missed the second FT, but Kamp rebounded and Sanders-Frison scored a putback when Gutierrez missed on a drive. Nelson just scored for UCLA and Ben Howland called timeout. Sanders-Frison has 12 for Cal, Kamp and Crabbe each have eight. Lee has 19 for UCLA and Honeycutt has 14. Cal ball.
1:19 1st OT: The score is tied at 68-all, but Gutierrez is shooting two after drawing Joshua Smith’s fifth foul. Gutierrez has six of Cal’s eight points in the overtime and a career-high 31 for the game.
END OF REGULATION: Cal 60, UCLA 60. Malcolm Lee hit a fadeaway 3-pointer over Crabbe. The ball hit the front rim, bounced up and went in as the horn sounded. Overtime. Bears are 1-1 in extra time — beat WSU, lost to Arizona in 3 OTs.
Here’s my story from this morning’s editions on Cal freshman forward Richard Solomon, who was a junior black belt in karate when he was 12 years old.
Early word from Haas Pavilion on the status of freshman guard Allen Crabbe is encouraging.
He has not yet been officially cleared to play in tonight’s 7 p.m. game vs. UCLA, but participated in the team’s shoot-around and was “looking good,” according to one source within the program.
Crabbe has missed the past two games after suffering a concussion a week ago Thursday at Washington. He is the Bears’ second-leading scorer in Pac-10 play at 15.2 ppg and had 17 points when the teams met last month at Pauley Pavilion.
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.”
Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
No truth, either, to the rumor that Cal will move Markhuri Sanders-Frison from center to shooting guard if Allen Crabbe isn’t ready to go Sunday night when UCLA visits Haas Pavilion.
Still . . . 2 for 2 from the 3-point arc? The guy obviously has been scouting Arizona’s Derrick Williams.
Here’s my game story from this morning’s editions on the Bears’ 78-75 loss to USC.
FINAL SCORE: USC 78, Cal 75. The Bears did not stop battling and got within a point when Sanders-Frison made — get this — his second 3-pointer of the final 31.1 seconds. Vucevic, who had missed three straight FTs, then made two with 1.2 seconds left, pushing the USC lead to three points. Jeff Powers’ near-halfcourt shot to tie was late and missed. Cal (13-13, 6-8) has lost four in a row for the first time in Mike Montgomery’s three seasons. Sanders-Frison finished with a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. Kamp had 16 points. Gutierrez scored 13, but shot 2 for 13. Jones scored 22 for USC (14-12, 6-7) — all in the second half — and Vucevic had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his 15th double-double.
0:44.2 2nd H: USC leads 73-67 after a jumer by Sanders-Frison. Things got a little hairy with 1:06 left when Gutierrez wrapped his arms around Donte Smith for a foul and Smith responded by going at Gutierrez for a moment. Both eventually were whistled for technicals, each picking up his fifth PF in the process. Cal has gotten as close as six points, but no closer.
1:53 2nd H: USC leads 70-60 and Maurice Jones, who has 21 points, is shooting two FTs.
If you were wondering how good Arizona might be if sophomore power forward Derrick Williams departs for the NBA, the Wildcats got a nice potential replacement Thursday when Angelo Chol, the top-rated available big man in the ESPNU 100 committed to the Wildcats. Here’s the story.
Christian Behrens, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward from Tahoma High in Covington, Wash., is making his campus visit this weekend after averaging 21.7 points and 10.5 rebounds this season. He will he at Cal’s game Thursday night against USC, his coach confirmed.
The Bears also have made an offer to De’End Parker, a 6-5 combo guard from City College of San Francisco, the top-ranked JC team in California. Parker, who also has an offer from Arizona State and is drawing interest from UCLA, told me he will not make a decision until his season is over in 2-3 weeks.
Tahoma coach Rob Morrow said Behrens had not received an offer from Cal before making his trip to the Bay Area, but said the Bears are very high on his list.
“He really likes Cal, Cal really likes him,” Morrow said. “He’s getting close to deciding. If Cal offered, I don’t see him turning that one down. Academics are a big deal to him and his family.”