FINAL SCORE: Cal 75, USC 49. (My apologies for the absence — newspaper deadline beckoned). Cal (19-6, 9-3) moves back into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 standings after Washington’s 82-57 trouncing at Oregon. The top of the standings are a mess: Cal and UW each at 9-3, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado all at 8-4. UCLA beat Stanford, so the Bruins are 7-5. That’s six teams — half the league — within two games of each other with six to play.
Crabbe finished with 19 points, 13 of them in the first half. Kamp made all seven of his shots in the second half and had 18 points. Kravish grabbed 18 rebounds — most by a Cal player since Leon Powe had 20 against USC at the 2006 Pac-10 tournament. Cal shot 63 percent in the second half, making 10 of 11 shots during the decisive stretch, and 55.7 percent for the game.
Maurice Jones scored 17 for injury-riddled USC (6-19, 1-11), which has won just once since Dec. 19 and now has failed to score more than 50 points in eight of its past 13 games.
7:44 2nd H: Cal leads 63-42. Bigger news is Oregon is blasting Washington 47-26 with a minute left in the first half at Eugene. If both scores hold, Cal will be tied for first place.
13:22 2nd H: Cal leads 53-36. The Bears are in the midst of a 15-4 run, fueled by 12 points from Kamp (6 for 6) and a 3-pointer by Crabbe. All of it happened after Jones went out. He’s now coming back, but is it too late? Crabbe and Kamp each with 16 points. Kravish with 15 rebounds.
16:19 2nd H: Kamp has hit three straight jumpers — each from a bit farther out — and Cal leads 44-34. Kamp has 10 points. Jones has been out since 17:09 after sustaining a cut on his hand or wrist. Seems he’s a bleeder. Kravish, going all Bill Russell, has 14 rebounds.
19:10 2nd H: Kravish just grabbed his 11th rebound — equaling his best. Cal leads 38-32 after three FTs by Cobbs.
THIS SCORE JUST IN: Red-hit Arizona beat Colorado 71-57 in Tucson, so Cal will own sole possession of second place with a victory. Arizona and Colorado both 8-4 in the conference.
HALFTIME SCORE: Cal 35, USC 29: The Bears have their biggest lead after Crabbe scored on a breakaway layup off a feed from Gutierrez following just USC’s third turnover of the game. Crabbe has 13 points. No other Cal player with more than four. Bears shooting even 50 percent. Kravish has 10 rebounds — his career-high is 11 vs. Weber State. Jones has 11 points for USC, which is giving Cal some trouble with its five-out alignment, which opens the middle for penetration or quick cuts. Trojans shooting 43 percent.
3:44 1st H: Cal leads 27-23 after basket by Kravish, who missed the and-one FT. USC has cooled a bit with Jones on the bench. Cal shooting 48 percent, USC 39 percent. Cal has 19-11 rebound edge — in other words, Kravish has just one fewer rebound than all the Trojans combined. Jones is returning at the timeout.
4:03 1st H: Kravish already has 10 rebounds.
6:48 1st H: USC leads 23-21. The difference so far — Cal has five turnovers, USC 1. Crabbe and Jones each have 11 points, but Jones went out at 8:07 after picking up his second foul.
10:28 1st H: Crabbe is hot — has 11 points on 5 for 5 from the field. But so is Jones, who has nine points on 4 for 4. Cal leads 17-16.
12:07 1st H: USC just called timeout because 5-foot-7 Maurice Jones is attempting to guard 6-6 Allen Crabbe and it’s not working. Crabbe just hit a turn-around jumper over him. Cal 15-13.
13:13 1st H: Kamp just picked up his second foul. He’s out for Robert Thurman.
15:32 1st H: USC leads 8-6. Cal missed its first four shots, but it beginning to settle down on offense. Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe have big contingents of family and friends here.
STARTING LINEUPS: USC will start Greg Allen, Maurice Jones, Byron Wesley, James Blasczyk and Garrett Jackson. Three Trojans starters are different than when the teams met on Dec. 29. Cal will go with Harper Kamp, David Kravish, Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs and Jorge Gutierrez.
THIS SCORE JUST IN: Arizona State beat Utah 57-52 to solidify its hold on 10th place.
TO BE CLEAR: In case my wife is online, that business about introducing myself to everyone here, well, it doesn’t include the USC song girls. Right.
THE CROWD: Really, that’s the wrong word for what’s here so far. Probably more people in your living room right now. I’m considering introducing myself personally to everyone here. If so, will be back in about 3 minutes.
WELCOME: I’m here at the Galen Center where the Golden Bears (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12) will take on USC (6-18, 1-10), the Pac-12′s last-place team. This would appear to be a mismatch, as the Trojans have just six healthy scholarship players and have won just once since Dec. 19. But Cal is 2-4 on the road and has won just twice in six games at Galen. So stay tuned.