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Basketball: Arizona game thread

Click here for our game story.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 87, Cal 59. The No. 3 Wildcats (26-2, 12-3) hand the Bears (18-10, 9-6) their worst loss of the season, avenging their loss at Berkeley on Feb. 1 that knocked Arizona out of No. 1. Worst news for Cal: Freshman Jordan Mathews injured his left ankle or foot with 1:22 left.

After Stanford’s loss at Arizona State, there is now a four-way tie for third place, with Cal, ASU, Stanford and Colorado all 9-6.

Cobbs was Cal’s only player in double figures with 12 points, and he had merely an average game made worse by a technical foul. The Bears made 10 of their first 16 shots, then were 14 for 39 the rest of the way. They fell behind by 20 early in the second half, but got back to 55-47 when Tyrone Wallace made a 3-pointer with 12:20 left. Cal was outscored 32-12 the rest of the way.

Arizona clobbered the Bears on the boards, 42-25. Cal had 14 turnovers. The Bears shot 4 for 16 from the 3-point line. That’s a lot of bad there.

Nick Johnson, who had just four points in Berkeley, finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. PG T.J. McConnell had 13 points and six assists. Aaron Gordon scored 13 points and made 5 of 6 FTs, earning big cheers from the McKale crowd that recalls him making just 2 of 11 in a recent game. And Rondae Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench to provide 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Arizona not only left no doubt it’s far superior to Cal, it made a strong argument it’s as good as any team in the country. ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi at halftime projected the Cats as the No. 1 overall seed into the NCAA tournament.

And Cal’s postseason prospects? Well, this doesn’t help, but the Bears probably still need to win just two of their remaining three regular-season games to be in good shape. A win at Arizona State on Saturday would be huge for them.

They’ll have to be substantially better than they were in this one.

HALFTIME SCORE: Arizona 44, Cal 29. The Bears led 8-2, then 14-13, but have been overwhelmed since. Arizona’s defense has forced nine turnovers, and the Cats used runs of 9-0 and 10-0 to pull away. Cal made 1o of its first 16 shots — 63 percent — and still trailed 29-22. Since then, the Bears are 3 for 12. Arizona has a 22-13 rebounding edge, in part because Richard Solomon picked up his third foul with 4:26 left and David Kravish got two early.

Nick Johnson, who scored just four points in the first meeting, already has 12. Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has eight points and six rebounds off the bench. Solomon has seven points for the Bears while Feb. 1 hero Justin Cobbs is just 2 for 7 and has four points.

Gonna take something remarkable for the Bears to get back in this one.

GREETINGS: Sorry to report I am not in Tucson tonight. But we have a freelance writer who will provide us a story, and I will post notes at halftime and after the game.

Tipoff at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 with Bill Walton serving as analyst. Enjoy.

Jeff Faraudo

  • 1brsfan

    Just about what I expected… A blowout loss. Let’s hope they have a better showing against ASU. Go Bears!

  • KC

    Completely unimpressed by the job our coaching staff is doing the last several weeks and not afraid to say it. Stagnant on offense and easy to guard while looking totally unprepared on defense. Borderline unwatchable.

  • Wehofx

    Brutal.

    The defensive lapses that resulted in uncontested drives to the basket and wide open J’s are inexcusable.

    Sure hope the. “Good” Bears show up against asu.

  • GoBears49

    At least Cal is doing a much better job in passing the ball into the post than they did awhile ago. But I am surprised that there is not any kicking the ball back out to a player on the outside who is open. That is Option A once the ball is passed into the post, which never seems to happen. That also very rarely seems to happen when someone drives — when that happens they always seem to go all of the way to the hoop without any kickouts to an outside player.

  • Steve Fischer

    If Monty is the coach his supporters claim and the excuse that he is playing with inherited recruits is lame, then he should get us some momentum and we should win the next three games. Monty has been a choker, he was past his prime when we got him. 2 out of the next 3 is an absolute minimum as they are home games.

  • Rollonubears

    i’ll be shocked if we pull out a w this weekend. az state wants it bad, and we’re expecting to lose, so we probably will. if we win, we’ll probably get all amped up and then blow at least one at home next week. this sport is incredibly emotionally volatile. more so as a bear fan. sometimes having a hint of greatness is more painful than it’s worth. at least when we suck, we know what to expect. this team is all over the map.

  • Steve Fischer

    Where is that hint of greatness? We beat Arizona when they were in shock for losing their star. As the headlines read today -we were routed. Sure ASU wants to win but what about us? Where is the desire in our team.. all i see is excuses.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    Yes, Monty is past his prime as evidenced by how HE is getting bullied by the refs at home instead of the other way around. During the furd days, Monty was truly a ref-master. He usually got his calls by games end. This is not true anymore. The refs have been brutal, the furd and ucla home games were both obscenely officiated, but Monty has not gotten a single T!? When the coach gets a T, sure it is a couple of points and a turnover, but what it says is “I GOT YOUR BACKS PLAYERS!!!” and it inevitably translates into more inspired play. I believe in the occasional T, yes.

    Yes, being a basketball fan is frustrating. But not as frustrating as coaching the sport to JV athletes more concerned with their twitter than their defense, let me tell you. ;)

    Unless this team shows some actual and consistent fire in the belly starting Saturday, they are NIT bound. Its up to Cobbs and Solomon (and Kravish and Kreklow) to lead this team. Monty is not the same inspirational force he once was and his team’s veteran leaders need to shoulder that load, fairly or not. Maybe Monty has one more good March run left in him, we need it.

    Go Bears!

  • GoBears49

    There is a word I have used for a very long time for getting your hopes up that Cal is going to be very good as a result of a great win and then have those hopes dashed as Cal falls on its face — typicalCal

  • 1brsfan

    We are who they thought we were! We were predicted to end in 5th and we’ll most likely end up 4th or 5th. We beat every team below us except for that bad SC loss and we’ll get 2-3 wins against those ahead of us. All but one of our losses are to tourney bound teams which should help come selection Sunday. My guess is we’ll beat ASU or CU but both both and we should win at home vs. Utah but certainly no gimme. We’ll be on the bubble in the 10-12 seed range and if we lose in 1st rd of P12 tourney we’re headed to Dayton.

    I think that we are what most of us expected to be this year, a fringe tourney team.

  • GoBears49

    As I mentioned in a recent post, Cal is now the 7th ranked team in the Pac – 12 in terms of their RPI ranking, and I am almost sure that RPI ranking is more important than league standings in determining who gets into the dance. Oregon is 5th (and just moved higher with their win last night over a depleted UCLA team), and Stanford is 6th. Utah is 8th. Cal is not that far behind Stanford and could pass them with a victory over ASU this Sunday.

    Though I am a longtime and loyal Cal fan, I know how they can break your heart (hence the word I have made up to describe that event — typicalCal). I fear, especially if Stanford holds up well in their last three games, that they will hold onto the sixth and last spot Pac – 12 teams can expect to get in the NCAA’s. If Utah passes us in the RPI rankings with a victory over us next week, then we will still be ranked seventh in league in RPI even if we pass Stanford. We desperately need to somehow beat ASU, just as we desperately needed to be USC, to have a decent shot to get into the tournament. Stanford will probably lose to Arizona. So if we lose to ASU and Stanford loses to Arizona, we would probably need a sweep next weekend and have Stanford lose one of their two games to have a realistic chance of getting into the dance.

    http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/rpi

  • GoBears49

    I think Bill Walton is one of the best, and certainly the most entertaining, college basketball TV announcer out there. He is a big advocate of rapid ball movement, and when teams do that well he is ecstatic. Cal doesn’t do that well. They pass the ball around the outside in a way which a high school team could defend.

    I think great coaches do a few things well, and one is to establish an offense than can move the ball to set up good shots or teach his players how to improvise how to move around and pass the ball to set up open look shots, and a lot of good-positioned, inside shots. Another thing they teach is good team defense.

    I don’t think Cal handles the offensive end well l enough to be able to succeed at the very highest level. And though I haven’t done so, it would be interesting to see how Cal compares to other teams in the turnover category. They certainly shot themselves in the foot, from which they never recovered, with all of those turnovers in the first half against Arizona.