Basketball: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: USC 70, Cal 56. The Trojans (19-13) were too big, too strong, too long, too quick. Alex Stepheson had 14 points and 16 rebounds for USC, Maurice Jones scored 16, Donte Smith 14 and Jio Fontan 12. Crabbe finished with 21 points for Cal (17-14), which had a four-game win streak snapped and now awaits a possible NIT bid.

2:44 2nd H: The comeback didn’t last long. USC answered with five straight points and leads 64-52.

6:38 2nd H: Crabbe just scored on a difficult floater off a drive, then a running 3-pointer, bringing Cal withn 59-49. In between, USC coach Kevin O’Neill looked at his assistants and asked, “Why didn’t we recruit this guy?”  Crabbe has 17 points.

7:43 2nd H: Solomon just scored on a drive to the basket and will be shooting one FT after the timeout. He has nine points, five rebounds and two blocks. Cal trails 57-43. Crabbe only Cal player in double digits — he has 12. Four USC players have 10 or more.

8:56 2nd H: Marcus Simmons just sat down with his fourth PF. Still, USC leads 57-41.

11:29 2nd H: Donte Smith, who has four 3-pointers and 14 points, just went to the bench with his fourth foul.

11:35 2nd H: USC is carving up the Bears from the perimeter. Remember, the Trojans shot 19 for 39 from deep in the first two meetings. They are 8 for 15 here, and Cal has no answer. After starting 1 for 11 from the field, USC is shooting 18 for 29 — 62 percent.

12:11 2nd H: Jones just hit a 3-pointer for USC, which leads 53-35. All but over. And Vucevic has been on the bench this whole time.

15:59 2nd H: USC leads 39-29 — its biggest of the game. Vucevic, who got his first FG with 17:02 left, just picked up his third foul, pushing off on Kamp. He’s on the bench. Cal has turned the ball over three straight times. The Bears don’t settle down soon, this could get out of hand.

MORE FROM HALFTIME: The Bears are between a rock and a hard place defensively. Donte Smith, with three 3-pointers, is torching the zone. But with foul trouble everywhere, especially among their three inside guys, the Bears need to protect themselves more than man-to-man allows. On offense, Kamp and MSF a combined 2 for 9 from the field. USC’s size an  issue, obviously. Gutierrez is 1 for 5 and has three fouls. Two of them came on charges — he was trying to be aggressive and make something happen. Now he has to dial it back a bit, not easy for him. Crabbe has had aggressive moments — Cal needs more of them. Consider: USC didn’t score on its first nine possessions, but has an eight-point halftime lead. A tough climb for the Bears.

HALFTIME SCORE: USC 35, Cal 27. A 3-pointer at the buzzer by Marcus Simmons — a 26-percent 3-point shooter — pushed the Trojans into an eight-point lead. The Trojans used a 10-0 run to zoom into a 27-20 lead. Brandon Smith hit a big 3-pointer for the Bears, then Kamp finally got on the board. Gutierrez has three fouls for Cal, and Kamp, MSF and Solomon each have two. Cal shooting 37.9 percent, including 1 for 4 from 3-point. USC is at 39.3 percent and is 6 for 12 from deep.

3:39 1st H: Cal’s lead is down to 20-19 after a putback by Alex Stepheson, who will shoot one FT after the timeout. Sanders-Frison picked up his second PF on the play. Kamp, who is 0 for 5 and scoreless, is on the bench with two fouls. MSF also has just two points, although he has seven rebounds. USC’s length definitely bothering the Bears inside. Solomon has a pair of baskets, but his inexperience is showing, too. A real bad shot a moment ago, a turnover and didn’t provide help defense on the play where MSF picked up his first foul. Kamp is out and Bak is in. Cal lineup now: Bak, Solomon, Crabbe, Gutierrez and Smith.

7:37 1st H: Cal leads 16-9. Bears have switched back and forth a bit from man to zone. Vucevic picked up his second foul at 8:13, charging into Kamp. Cal shooting 7 for 21; USC 3 for 16.

11:30 1st H: Cal still up 11-3. Kamp came out a couple minutes ago after getting three straight shots blocked inside. USC has come away with points on just one of 16 possessions. The Trojans are shooting 1 for 11 and have five turnovers. Cal is shooting 5 for 17 with one turnover.

12:29 1st H: Cal leads 11-3 after a steal and layup by Crabbe. USC finally got on the scoreboard with 14:27 left when Jio Fontan hit a 3-pointer. USC has scored on one of 14 possessions.

15:08 1st H: Good news/bad news for Cal. The Bears opened in man-to-man defense and USC hasn’t been able to do a thing with it. The Trojans have failed to score on their first eight possessions, shooting 0 for 6 with four turnovers. USC coach Kevin O’Neill not happy at all.  However . . . Cal is shooting 2 for 9 and leads justs 4-0 at the first media timeout.

STARTING LINEUPS: Cal will go with Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Harper Kamp, Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez and Brandon Smith. USC is starting Alex Stepheson, Nikola Vucevic, Marcus Simmons, Donte Smith and Jio Fontan.

WELCOME: We’re here at the Staples Center for today’s lunch-time tipoff between Cal (17-13) and USC (18-13). I’ll be back with starting lineups in a few minutes.

Jeff Faraudo

  • rollonubears

    uh. come on bears. we should be up at least 10. make some layups! great D tho.

  • rollonubears

    looks like the phone call came in for the refs to turn the tide. they were calling it fair for the first 10 minutes. getting a little tired of solomon’s “what did I do?” childish look after every ridiculous foul. i guess being a freshman, it’s a little more expected. he needs to lose that attitude next year. difference in the first half, u$c started to play D and picked up the intensity, and the bears look like deer in headlights. nice way to end the half. lay into ’em monty. this is unacceptable!

  • Uh Huh!

    Looks like trouble for Cal at halftime.
    The USC guards are gaining confidence on both their jumpers and their ability to take Cal’s guards off the dribble with their quickness.
    And Cal has foul trouble with all 3 of their main bigs at 2 each, plus Gut now has 3.
    USC defense has gotten more aggressive and is causing Cal problems simply running their offensive set, let alone finishing with good shots.
    This could be an ugly finish. Cal will need to make a lot of adjustments, and it’s hard to see where they are going to come from at this point.

  • joey

    The officiating really is believable. Why would I have expected it to be any good for this game?

  • rollonubears

    These games need to be in Norcal every other year. Even still, this is a complete embarrassment. NIT, here we come.

  • rollonubears

    they started calling a few fouls the other way because people were changing the channel.

  • rollonubears

    gotta question monty’s use of timeouts this half. just letting them get reamed out there.

  • joey

    I went to a Pac 10 tournamnet once at Staples but will never support it or go again until they move the location.

  • rollonubears

    maybe when it’s the pac12, some of that money that helped move prop8 will help move the location every now and then. even if it’s in utah every year, it’d be better than this garbage.

    i can’t believe how few 3s we shot today. you can’t give up wide open 3s and not shoot any yourself and expect to win, especially when every time you have the ball down low, you’re going up against guys twice the size and 5″ higher. sad state of affairs for the golden bears.

  • rollonubears

    march madness really sucks when your team’s not there.

  • milo

    Bummer…oh well, still a season that exceeded expectations.

  • Eric

    I was at the game, first row in front of the Cal band.

    U$C’s guards are much, much better than ours.

    Other than the first few minutes, we looked totally lethargic. When Kamp got blocked 3 straight times, he basically gave up.

    Refs were absolutely terrible. The game changed on their calls/no calls when we were up by 8 (leading to us being down by 7). In the second half, the calls actually favored us, but they were so laughably bad.

  • Uh Huh!

    Solomon’s lowlight of the season came when he got a rebound down low and had Stephenson on him like a “no fouls” statue. Instead of overpowering him (Solo is taller with more vertical jumps) he tried a turnaround, double pump from the waist shot, and basically served it up to Stephenson’s stationary hands for the block. He knew it was pathetic when he started back to the other end of the court with his head hung low. We’ve seen that a lot this year, but this was the lowlight! Thing is, MSF will be gone next year and that’s his position to show off, or shown down, as much as he wants.

  • Uh Huh!

    Rollon: I’d venture to guess that Cal got off so few 3’s b/c USC was committed to not allowing us any. Did you notice how far out their D was extended? Hard to bust a 3 when you’ve got a dude in your mug. Give them some credit today.

    If any team is going to extend their defense, you’ve got to be able to beat them inside, but, as mentioned elsewhere, Kamp was blocked multiple times by Vucevich, and seemed to no longer be any option. Where was MSF today? Was the ball entered to him in the post even once? Good defense by Kevin O’Neil.

    And I’d suggest that Monty didn’t call some timeouts b/c he knew the game was over at some point and just settled into his seat. I noticed he didn’t even flinch on a number of plays, especially the Solo play I just described. When a sorry play like that happens and you don’t move, you know you’ve given up.

  • Uh Huh!

    JF: That’s a great catch on the quote by O’Neill – “why didn’t we recruit this guy”.
    Ha ha ha ha…..

    It’s not time for the weight room yet, boys. NIT glory can still be ours!!!

  • K1W

    Congrats to the Cal women. They WON TWO and are in the Pac-10 tourney semi’s, playing UCLA.

  • covinared

    I don’t know where these complaints about the officiating and arena come from. I was there. Cal got the calls early and failed to put away sc. Sc outplayed us the rest of the way. They were better. Staples and LA were beautiful, even better with LA Live. Its easy for many bay area folks to snub there noses at anything located in LA for any reason.

  • Eric

    Covinared – since I was in the front row, I had a great view of the second foul on Jorge – a charging, which wasn’t close – as well as the two missed no-calls when he got hit in the face. In the second half, the ridiculous calls went Cal’s way (as long as they were not shooting fouls for us), and the U$C fans (and Cal fans) couldn’t help but laugh at how bad they were.

  • covinared

    you and I must not have had the same amount to drink…

  • Eric

    It took the staff a full half to deliver me one beer, even though by half time I certainly coul dhave used a bunch more.