FINAL SCORE: USC 77, Cal 69. The Bears (14-5, 5-1) lose for the first time in the Pac-12 and look bad doing it. They shot 39 percent, made just 5 of 17 from the 3-point arc and missed nine free throws. They also allowed the Trojans to outscore them 44-26 in the paint, thanks to 20 layups and dunks. Cobbs had 22 points and six assists, Mathews had 18 and Solomon contributed nine points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Jovanovic scored a career-high 23 for the Trojans (10-9, 1-5), who hadn’t come closer than 18 points in their previous five conference games.
3:34 2nd H: Cal has made several comeback attempts, but the Trojans have answered each one of them. USC’s lead currently is 69-58. Cobbs has 21 points for the Bears and Mathews 15. But Cal is shooting just 37 percent, has made 4 of 15 from the 3-point arc and has missed five free throws in the second half.
11:44 2nd H: USC leads 56-42 after a layup by Nikola Jovanovic, who will be shooting the and-1 FT after the timeout. Wallace just picked up his fourth PF. The Bears are in trouble.
HALFTIME SCORE: USC 41, Cal 32. The Bears got as close as 35-30 after Kameron Rooks scored on a putback with 1:53 left. But USC outscored them 6-2 the rest of the half to rebuild the lead. Cal shooting 32.3 percent (10 for 31) with five turnovers. USC shooting 55.6 percent (15 for 27) with six TOs. Mathews has 13 points and Cobbs 12 for Cal — the rest of the team has combined for seven on 2 for 12 shooting. USC with a 19-17 rebounding edge, despite eight boards by Solomon. Wallace and Kravish are scoreless.
3:46 1st H: USC’s lead is 32-22. Cal got within six points, but couldn’t build on the comeback. The Bears are shooting 7 for 25 — 28 percent. Only three Cal players have scored so far — Mathews with 9 points, Cobbs with 8 and Solomon with 5 — a bad sign for a team as balanced as the Bears. Seven different USC players have scored, including 7-foot-2 Omar Oraby, who has nine points.
7:39 1st H: USC leads 26-16. The Trojans were up 11 at one point. Cal shooting 6 for 20 and allowing USC to do what it wants. Trojans shooting 9 for 15. USC outscoring Cal 14-2 in the paint. Monty tinkering with lots of combinations, but very little fire, organization or defense so far.
12:58 1st H: Not going well so far for the Bears, who trail 16-8. Cal shooting 3 for 12 and fouling USC at every opportunity. Montgomery already has gone to Bird, Rooks and Powers off the bench.
15:40 1st H: A slow start by the Bears, who trail 9-5. Solomon going to the line for two FTs after the timeout. Cal shooting 2 for 7 from the field. USC is 3 for 4, but has three turnovers.
THIS SCORE JUST IN: OSU leads WSU 33-27 at the half in Pullman.
STARTING LINEUPS: Cal will go with its usual quintet of Justin Cobbs, Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews, Richard Solomon and David Kravish. USC is starting Pe’Shon Howard, J.T. Terrell, Omar Oraby, Nikola Jovanovic and Byron Wesley.
WELCOME: I’m here at the Galen Center for tonight’s game between the first-place Bears (14-4, 5-0 Pac-12) and the last-place Trojans (9-9, 0-5).
Will this be a mismatch or a trap game for the Bears, three days before their showdown with UCLA at Pauley?
Will be back shortly with starting lineups.