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Football: Pac-12 falls to 1-4 in bowls

Here’s how you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve: Bring together two horrible teams whose coaches already have been fired and let them go at it in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park:

   — Illinois 20, UCLA 14: The Illini (7-6) snapped a six-game losing streak spanning 12 weeks of real time by beating the Bruins (6-8) who got an exemption allowing them to play in a bowl game with a losing record. UCLA dropped its third straight game, the pprevious two by a 99-31 margin. Here’s more, if you want it.

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Basketball: New Year’s Eve in the Pac-12

A full slate of games to bid farewell to 2011 . . .

   — Washington 76, Oregon 60: C.J. Wilcox came off the bench to score 25 points, including 6 for 8 from 3-point range, and the Huskies (8-5, 2-0 Pac-12) made 12 3-point shots to open the conference schedule with two home wins. Freshman Tony Wroten added 17 points. E.J. Singler scored 20 points for the Ducks (10-4, 1-1).

   — Stanford 51, USC 43: The Cardinal (12-2, 2-0) completes the weekend home sweep in a defensive battle with the Trojans (5-10, 0-2). Aaron Bright had 16 points and Josh Owens 12 for Stanford. Maurice Jones, who scored 17 points two nights earlier at Cal and brought the Trojans back from a 16-point hole, shot 1 for 12 and scored five points.

   – Washington State 81, Oregon State 76: Not a good weekend in Washington for the Beavers (10-4, 0-2), whose non-conference record is now a footnote.   Brock Motum scored 26 points for the Cougars (9-5, 1-1) and freshman G DaVonte Lacy scored 18, improving his average over the past 3 games to 17.3 ppg. San Leandro’s Jared Cunningham had 21 points and four steals for OSU, which hosts Cal on Thursday.

   – Arizona 68, Arizona State 51: The defending conference champion Wildcats (10-4, 1-0) led by as many as 24 points against their visiting in-state rivals. Jesse Perry had 16 points, Nick Johnson 14 and Solomon Hill 11 points/10 rebounds for Arizona. Ruslan Pateev scored a career-high 12 for ASU (4-9, 0-1), off to its worst overalll start since 1986-87. ASU had more turnovers (19) than baskets (18).

    – Colorado 73, Utah 33: The Buffaloes (9-4, 1-0) left no doubt in their Pac-12 debut, demolishing the Utes (3-10, 0-1), who scored just 11 first-half points. Colorado got a career-high 19 points from freshman G Spencer Dinwiddie and 17 points and a season-high 17 rebounds from Andre Roberson, who assembled his ninth double-double of the season. Josh Watkins, Utah’s top scorer this season, shot 1 for 12 and scored four points.

Elsewhere . . .

   — Former Richmond HS star Wendell McKines had 22 points and 14 rebounds, leading New Mexico State to an 81-65 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. It was the eighth double-double of the season, fourth in a row for McKines, who is averaging 22.5 points and 15.5 rebounds over those four games.

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Basketball: UCLA game thread

POST-GAME NOTES: Bears’ three perimeter starters combined for 22 assists and just four turnovers . . . Cal had 28 assists on 34 baskets, most assists in a game since 30 against Long Beach State on Dec. 28, 2007 . . . Cal’s biggest margin of victory over UCLA since a 92-63 win in 2001 . . . Gutierrez’s 16 points leave him at 997 for his career . . . Coolest second-half stat: 16 assists, 1 turnover . . . Happy New Year everyone.

FINAL SCORE: Cal 85, UCLA 69. Cal’s best half of the season — taking into account offense, defense and the stakes — and the Bears (12-3, 2-0 in Pac-12) close out the year with serious fireworks. The Bears complete their first home sweep of the L.A. schools in eight seasons. Allen Crabbe scored 20 points and had six assists and five rebounds. Gutierrez had 16 points and eight assists. Cobbs played terrific and had 13 points and eight assists with one turnover. Kravish played big against Joshua Smith and had a career-high 13 points. And seldom-used walkon Robert Thurman had a career-high 11 points (all in the second half) on 5-for-5 shooting. Was Cal’s biggest margin of victory over UCLA in 11 seasons. Cal had just one second-half turnover and shot 65.4 percent for the game. 

7:52 2nd H: Cal’s lead is 69-51. Robert Thurman got into the act with a dunk and free throw, and Kravish dunked on the Bears’ next trip down. Cal is shooting 67.5 percent — 27 for 40. The Bears have just one turnover in the half. UCLA shooting 41.9 percent and has 13 turnovers — five in the half.

11:28 2nd H: Cal leads 62-45. Bears have scored 7-0 over the past 90 seconds, capped by a 3-pointer from Crabbe off a feed from Cobbs, who is playing much better than two nights ago. Cal has outscored the Bruins 22-6 this half.

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Basketball: UCLA scouting report

UCLA, perhaps the most disappointing team in the nation the first month of the season, is making progress and will pose a challenge for Cal on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion.

Preseason favorites in the Pac-12 Conference, the Bruins (7-6, 0-1 Pac-12) are no longer the mess they were after a 2-5 dissension-ridden start.

“They did what they needed to do to solidify their ballclub, and that’s get rid of Reeves Nelson, who was a huge distraction for everybody,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “He was causing everybody to just be off-balance and not know what was going on.”

Twice suspended for behavior and attitude problems by Bruins coach Ben Howland, the returning all-conference junior forward from Modesto finally was dismissed from the team on Dec. 9. UCLA responded by winning five straight games.

“There was a constant elephant in the room and (Howland) said, `OK, enough’s enough.’ Now they got a bunch of guys who want to play together,” Montgomery said. “Since that time they’ve won and they’ve won big. They’re not bad. Good ballclub.”

It’s not like Nelson was providing the Bruins much, anyway. A year after averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds, Nelson contributed just 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. Among his November highlights: Missing the team flight to Maui. C’mon!  Who in their right mind misses a flight to Hawaii?

UCLA lost 60-59 in its Pac-12 opener Thursday at Stanford, but boasts the kind of size that could cause trouble for the Bears (11-3, 1-0). The new-look Bruins have improved defensively, allowing an average of just 53.8 points the past five games. They surrendered 67.7 points per game through the first seven games.

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Football: Pac-12 is 0-3 in bowls, but . . .

If you’re gonna lose a bowl game, this is the way to do it.

Check out the comic-book stats assembled in Baylor’s 67-56 instant-classic victory over Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

Fans who sat through Wednesday’s Holiday Bowl between Cal and Texas had to be envious. Baylor outscored UW 29-14 in the third quarter alone — more points than were generated all night in San Diego.

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Basketball: UCLA’s win streak stopped by Cardinal

Around the Pac-12 on opening night . . .

   – Stanford 60, UCLA 59: Josh Huestis blocked a shot by Lazeric Jones with 3 seconds left and the Cardinal (11-2, 1-0) snapped the five-game win streak of the Bruins (7-6, 0-1) at Maples Pavilion. Aaron Bright scored 16 points to lead Stanford. Jones had a career-high 26 for UCLA, which visits Cal on Saturday at 1 p.m.

   – Washington 95, Oregon State 80: The host Huskies (7-5, 1-0) got double-digit scoring from six players, including freshman Tony Wroten Jr., who had 26 points and nine rebounds. Wroten is averaging 22.2 points over the past five games. Joe Burton had 18 to lead the Beavers (10-3, 0-1), who had their best pre-conference record since 1989-90.

   – Oregon 92, Washington State 75: The Ducks (10-3, 1-0) got 23 points and 10 rebounds from Ola Ashaolu and led by 20 at half at Pullman, Wash. Oregon shot 69.4 percent for the game. Freshman DaVonte Lacy scored 19 for the Cougars (8-5, 0-1), who had won their previous six games.

Elsewhere . . .

   — Oakland HS grad Damian Lillard, the nation’s leading scorer, went for 26 points to lead Weber State to a 78-64 win over Idaho State. Lillard is averaging 25.4.

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Basketball: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: Cal 53, USC 49. Jones missed an off-balance 3-pointer in the final seconds. Bears are 11-3, 1-0 in the Pac-12. USC is 5-9, 0-1. Gutierrez finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Kamp and Crabbe each scored 12. Jones had 17 for USC.

08.4 2nd H: Crabbe just made three FTs after Dedmon blocked a layup try to Gutierrez and Cal leads 53-49. Crabbe simply was trying to get a shot off before the shot clock expired and USC’s Eric Strangis fouled him.

3:00 2nd H: Jones just hit his second step-back 3-pointer and USC trails just 48-44.

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Basketball: USC scouting report

Cal’s mandate in its Pac-12 opener at Haas Pavilion on Thursday evening vs. USC: Score 67 points.

Only once so far this season have the Trojans topped more than 66, and if the Bears can get the tempo where they want it, they should prevail.

Of course, USC works hard to slow the pace, keep the scoring down . . . make it ugly.

The Trojans allow a conference-low 56.0 points per game . . . but they also are last in scoring at 55.8. Three times they have scored 41 points or fewer.

Cal is expected to play once more without sophomore forward Richard Solomon, who has missed the past two games with a stress reaction in his foot. Even without him, the Bears’ depth won’t be the issue because USC doesn’t have many bodies, either.

Patience will be critical. USC extends possessions at both ends of the floor, and therefore reduces the number of them. So Cal cannot afford to be careless with the ball and give away opportunities.

USC coach Kevin O’Neill is plenty worried about this weekend’s trip to the Bay Area, where Cal and Stanford have a combined home record of 15-1.

“To me, it looks like Stanford and Cal might be the two best teams. But who knows?” O’Neill said, when asked to assess the conference race. “ I know we’re going to get better as the year goes on. It’s just going to take a little time.”

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Basketball: Colorado wins pre-Pac laugher

Colorado (8-4) closed out its pre-Pac-12 schedule with a 92-34 win over New Orleans, which dropped Division I status after last season.

Carlon Brown scored 18 points and sophomore Andre Roberson had his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The Buffaloes led 51-20 at halftime and the Privateers finished with more turnovers (14) than baskets (12).

Elsewhere . . .

   — Two Bay Area products were at their best as New Mexico topped rival New Mexico State 89-69. Archbishop Mitty HS grad Drew Gordon had 23 points and 19 rebounds for the Lobos, and Richmond HS’s Wendell McKines had 25 and 15 for the Aggies.

   — UNLV shot 18 for 32 from the 3-point line, had 40 assists and 15 steals in a 124-75 rout of Central Arkansas. Chace Stanback led seven double-figure scorers with 29 points, including 9 for 11 from beyond the arc.