FINAL SCORE: Arizona State 78, Cal 60. The Bears (18-11, 9-7) fall out of a tie for third place after being routed in Tempe. Bears now tied for fifth place with Colorado and just one game ahead of Oregon, Utah and Washington, all 8-8. Cal has now lost 3 of its past 4 games, by a combined margin of 68 points.
The Bears struggled at both ends of the court in this one. ASU, after making just 4 of its first 17 shots, converted 25 of its final 39 (including some garbage time with the walkons). Jermaine Marshall scored 22 points, including 6 for 8 from the 3-point arc, to lead the Sun Devils (21-8, 10-6), who swept the Bay Area schools at home this week after losing to Utah and Colorado on the road a week ago. Jonathan Gilling added 15 points for ASU, including four baskets from inside the 3-point arc. He had made just 4 2-pointers throughout the entire Pac-12 schedule, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.
Cal got 15 points from Justin Cobbs, 12 points and eight rebounds from David Kravish and 14 points off the bench from Jordan Mathews. But the Bears shot just 41.5 percent and once more got almost no offensive contribution from Richard Solomon. Solid most of this season, the senior forward is shooting 6 for 24 and averaging just 5.5 points the past four games.
Cal returns home to face Utah on Wednesday, then Colorado on Saturday. To earn that top-4 finish and a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament and to fan their NCAA tournament hopes, the Bears may have to win both.
HALFTIME: Arizona State 29, Cal 24. The Sun Devils outscored the Bears 11-2 over the final 6 1/2 minutes of the half to go ahead. ASU leads despite shooting just 33 percent (9 for 27) in the half. The Bears, who shot well early, cooled to 35.7 percent (10 for 28). ASU has a 21-17 rebounding edge. Justin Cobbs (nine points), David Kravish (eight) and Jordan Mathews (seven) have combined for all of Cal’s points. Tyrone Wallace and Richard Solomon are scoreless. Jermaine Marshall has 10 for ASU.
WELCOME: As was the case Wednesday when Cal played at Arizona, I am not in Tempe today for the Bears’ game vs. Arizona State. But I will provide updates at halftime and postgame.
Cal will play today without freshman backup center Kameron Rooks, who is out for the season with a left foot injury.
Better news for the Bears: Colorado already has lost 75-64 at Utah, so the logjam for third place now is just three teams. Cal, Arizona State and Stanford all are 9-5 in the Pac-12. CU dropped to 9-6.
A Cal win today and a Stanford loss on Sunday at Arizona would give the Bears third place by themselves, no worse than one game behind second-place UCLA.