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Cal basketball: Bears cannot complete comeback

FINAL SCORE: Colorado 70, Cal 62. Freshman Jaylen Brown came alive with 21 second-half points but the Bears never recovered after falling behind by 17 points early in the second half.

*** Click here to read our correspondent’s game story.

Cal is now 14-8 overall, 4-5 in the Pac-12 at the halfway point of the conference schedule, 1-8 away from home and winless in five Pac-12 road games.

After sweeping the Arizona schools at home last week, the Bears are back under .500 in the conference, mired in a 3-way tie for seventh place in the Pac-12 standings.

Offense was the problem most of the afternoon for the Bears, who shot 35.1 percent from the field.

Cal trailed 65-60 with 1 minute left and had the ball, but point guard Sam Singer turned it over — the last of Cal’s 15 giveaways — and Colorado made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to ice the win.

The Buffaloes (17-5, 6-3) did not make a field goal in the final 4:50 of the game, but converted 13 of 16 from the foul line down the stretch.

Brown, limited by two fouls to just one shot in a scoreless first half, scored 21 points in the final 16:01 of the game. He attacked the heart of the CU defense, drawing fouls that sent him to the line, where he made 8 of 11 free throws. From the field, he had little more success than anyone else in a Cal uniform, making 6 of 15 attempts.

Guard Jordan Mathews, held without a field goal in the first half, awoke to his three 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 13 points. But he shot 3 for 12 from the floor.

Ivan Rabb added 13 points and center Sean Rooks had a career-best 12 rebounds before fouling out late.

Power forward Josh Scott led the Buffaloes with 18 points, including 8 for 8 from the FT line. But he shot just 5 for 17 from the field.

The Buffs recovered nicely from their 1-for-19 shooting start, hitting 21 of 39 the rest of the way.

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1

Cal football: Spring game set for April 16

Cal will begin spring football practice on Monday, March 7, with its spring game set for Saturday, April 16. The latter event will begin at 11 am and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.

The Bears also have announced their annual Pro Day for players working out in front of NFL scouts will be held on Friday, March 18 at 8 a.m.

All but five of Cal’s spring practices will be open to the public.

Here is a list of those open to fans:

CAL FOOTBALL 2016 SPRING OPEN PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Monday, March 7 (3:30 pm)
Wednesday, March 9 (3:30 pm)
Friday, March 11 (3:30 pm)
Monday, March 14 (3:30 pm)
Friday, March 18 … Pro Timing Day (8 am)
Friday, March 18 (4:30 pm)
Friday, April 1 (4:30 pm)
Monday, April 4 (3:30 pm)
Wednesday, April 6 (3:30 pm)
Monday, April 11 (3:30 pm)
Saturday, April 16 (11 am … Cal Football Spring Game, Pac-12 Networks)

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Cal basketball: Trying to solve a road riddle

Pac-12 teams have lost more than twice as often as they’ve won (36 to 16) in conference road games. But Cal, which plays Sunday at Colorado, has contributed more than most to that disparity.

The Golden Bears remain winless in four Pac-12 road outings after their 73-64 defeat at Utah on Wednesday. Only Arizona State and Washington State, which reside at the bottom of the conference standings, have fared as poorly away from home.

If the Bears (14-7, 4-4 Pac-12) hope to make some noise in a crowded conference race, they need to get things figured out beyond the comfortable confines of Haas Pavilion.

Tipoff Sunday is 2 p.m. (FoxSports1), and the Coors Center in Boulder won’t easily accommodate the visitors. Colorado (16-5, 5-3) is 3-1 in Pac-12 home games and has won four of its past five games overall, including a victory over conference co-leader Oregon.

The road has been a struggle for every Pac-12 team. Only Washington has fewer than two road defeats so far, and Pac-12 preseason favorite Arizona is 2-3 outside Tucson.

The Bears are statistically worse in virtually every way on the road (see chart below), but coach Cuonzo Martin says there’s no reason is has to be that way.

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Basketball: Utah pulls away from Cal in 2nd half

FINAL SCORE: Utah 73, Cal 64. A 19-2 run by the Utes spanning exactly six minutes early in the second half doomed the Bears (14-7, 4-4), who remain winless in four Pac-12 road games. Cal is now 1-7 away from Berkeley this season.

*** Click here for our correspondent’s game story.

Freshman Jaylen Brown equaled his career high with 27 points, including 17 in the second half, and fellow freshman Ivan Rabb had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Otherwise, the Bears totaled 25 points on 10 for 31 shooting.

“He did a good job of really being aggressive,” coach Cuonzo Martin said of Brown. “Other guys didn’t make enough shots.”

The game was the Bears’ first loss since senior all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace went down with a broken right had. Cal missed his ability to create his own shot, because Utah defense strangled the Bears’ perimeter attack.

Cal shot 38 percent for the game, and was just 6 for 17 from beyond the 3-point arc. Jordan Mathews, who had six 3-pointers and 28 points in the win over Arizona on Saturday, never had room to operate and finished with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. He attempted just two 3-pointers, hitting one.

Martin said a bigger an issue was Cal’s defense. The Bears entered the game ranked first nationally in 2-point field-goal defense, allowing just opponents to convert just 39.2 percent from inside the arc. But Utah pounded the ball inside to center Jakob Poeltl and power forward Kyle Kuzma and shot 55.5 percent (20 for 36) on 2-pointers.

Poeltl, limited to 6 for 14 shooting in Cal’s win over the Utes at Berkeley, was 7 for 10 and scored 21. His point total would have been higher except that he made just 7 of 14 free throws. Kuzma added 15 points on 6 of 9 from the field.

So the two Utah big men torched the Bears for 36 points on 13 of 19 shooting.

Guard Brandon Taylor had a strong game for Utah, contributing 15 points and six assists.

Martin wanted to stay with his young big men, Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh, but the two sophomore 7-footers combined for just two points and one blocked shot. Rooks had seven rebounds.

Cal scored the first six points of the second half to lead 40-35, then allowed the Utes to go 19-2 for a 54-42 lead with just under 12 minutes left.

The Bears climbed back within 61-57 on a layup and free throw by Brown with 7:03 left. But they went scoreless their next two trips and Utah rebuilt the lead to as many as 13 points.

The Bears were flying home after the game and will leave Saturday to play the next day at Colorado.

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Cal football: C.J. Anderson gives shout out to Tom Brady for his encouraging post-game words

After the Denver Broncos knocked off New England to earn a spot in Super Bowl 50, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sought out former Cal running back C.J. Anderson and provided him with an unexpected and inspiring message of encouragement.

“C.J. way to fight and prove everybody wrong,” Brady told him as the two embraced. “You belong in this league and you’re one hell of a player. I love the way you run. Keep climbing to be great.”

Anderson, who earned his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent, was so grateful for Brady’s kind words that he offered his thanks on his Instagram account.

“Thanks Tom for telling me those words they will stick and I know a lot of people don’t like you but I have MAD RESPECT. Thanks I see you overcome as others in this league and now it’s my turn.”

Click here for more on what Anderson had to say about Brady.

 

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Cal football: Trevor Davis gets NFL combine invite

Wide receiver/return special Trevor Davis of Cal has been invited to participate in the NFL Combine, he announced via Twitter.

Davis joins former teammates Daniel Lasco and Stephen Anderson, who previously said they will participate in the Feb. 23-29 tryout camp in Indianapolis.

Quarterback Jared Goff and wide receiver Kenny Lawler, who both will enter the NFL draft following their junior seasons, also are expected to get combine invitations. The official list of invites will not be announced until next week.

Wide receiver Bryce Treggs said on Twitter that he was not invited to the combine, but that he will fully participate at Cal’s Pro Day.

*****

Former Cal cornerback Cedric Dozier is headed to Kansas State as  graduate transfer and will be eligible to play immediately in 2016. Dozier was a consensus four-star recruit who started regularly in 2013 and 2014, but saw his playing time drop dramatically last fall.

*****

Former Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, hired last week to the same position at Middle Tennessee State, told me he’s already bought a home in the Nashville area.

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Cal football: Is ex-Aggies’ coordinator in mix for Bears’ job?

Jake Spavital, who has coached Johnny Manziel, Geno Smith and Brandon Weeden  but was forced out as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M earlier this month, is a candidate for the same position at Cal, according to the website CoachingSearch.com.

Spavital, 30, spent the past three seasons at A&M, and was offensive coordinator in 2014 and ’15.

But Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin announced Jan. 3 that the two had “mutually decided to part ways.”

Spavital would bring one significant qualification to the job to replace Tony Franklin, who announced last week he was leaving Cal after three seasons to serve as coordinator at Middle Tennessee State and be closer to family. Spavital has a strong background with the Air Raid offense, having worked under Dana Holgorsen at Houston, Oklahoma State and West Virginia from 2009 through 2012.

He arrived at A&M in 2013 after offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury took the head coaching job at Texas Tech, and served as quarterbacks coach, working with Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Spavital spent time coaching Smith at West Virginia and Weeden at Oklahoma State, even though Weeden was nearly two years older than Spavital.

Sumlin named Spavital the Aggies’ OC in 2014, but A&M offense sputtered against the Southeastern Conference elite this past season. The Aggies scored just 3 points against Ole Miss, 7 against LSU and 10 against Auburn, and Alabama returned three interceptions for touchdowns against them.

Spavital was criticized for a perceived lack of player development, but others said he met with resistance from older coaches on the staff who did not embrace his offensive philosophy. Two highly rated A&M quarterbacks transferred after the season, although one of them, Kyle Allen, called him “my guy for life” in a supportive Tweet after Spavital was let go at A&M.

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Spavital played football at Missouri State.

He earned $486,110 last season, according to the USA Today coaching salary data base.

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Cal basketball: Utah’s Jakob Poeltl to provide another challenge to Bears’ big men

Cal leads the nation in 2-point field-goal percentage defense, which will come in handy Wednesday night at Utah. Sophomore 7-footer Jakob Poeltl averages 16.9 points for the Utes, and every one of his 193 shot attempts has come from 2-point distance.

Tipoff is 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Bears (14-6, 4-3 Pac-12) and Utes (15-5, 4-3) are part of a six-team mess in third place in the conference standings, one game back of co-leaders Oregon and Washington.

The challenge for the Bears will be to defend the Utes as effectively as they did on Jan. 3 in Berkeley, when they scored a 71-58 victory.

And, of course, to figure out how to do it on the road.

Cal, 13-0 at home after sweeping the Oregon schools, has won just once outside the Berkeley city limits this season. At least it was another Mountain Time Zone game – a 78-72 win at Wyoming back on Dec. 5.

The Bears held Utah to 38.5 percent shooting in the first meeting, and did a solid job on Poeltl, projected as a first-round NBA draft pick. He scored 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting, but did not take over the game.

Coach Cuonzo Martin said slowing down Poeltl is easier said than done because he “impacts the game in so many ways.” Poeltl is coming off a 29-point, 10-rebound effort in the Utes’ 80-75 overtime win at Washington.

Cal’s tag-team 7-foot duo of Kingsley Okoroh and Kam Rooks will once more use their length – and their fouls – to try keeping Poeltl off balance.

“I thought Kam and King did a really good job of just being big and making him take tough shots,” Martin said. “You can’t let him get low post easy catches. You have to make him to go his second and third options.”

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Cal basketball: Cuonzo Martin makes the right moves

With his team’s postseason hopes – and his young program’s reputation — possibly at stake, Cuonzo Martin delivered his best week as coach at Cal.

The Bears were coming off three straight road defeats and, at 2-3 in the Pac-12 were mired in the lower division of the standings. All-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace was on the shelf with a broken hand. Arizona was coming to town.

Expected to challenge for the Pac-12 title and make noise in the postseason, Cal needed a big week. A loss or two and everything could steamroll in the wrong direction. Not just the Bears’ NCAA tournament prospects, but the way they are viewed by recruits and NBA scouts – both of whom were well-represented at Haas Pavilion on Saturday.

The Bears won twice, including a 74-73 victory over Arizona that lifts them within a game of first place, albeit as part of a six-way tie for third.

Here’s how Martin helped make it happen:

— With leading scorer and lone senior Wallace sidelined, Martin gave junior backup Sam Singer the structure to operate effectively at the point. The Bears worked to exploit their size advantage against Arizona State and Singer responded with eight first-half assists that set a good tone.

— Even when 7-footers Kingsley Okoroh and Kameron Rooks inevitably got into early foul trouble against Arizona’s talented frontcourt, Martin kept one of them in the game most of the rest of the way, showing confidence they could stay on the floor and be effective.

— To keep a big lineup on the floor, he moved sharpshooter Jordan Mathews to the sixth-man role, knowing the tough-minded junior would not be bothered by it. Mathews responded with a season-high 28 points, including six 3-pointers, against Arizona.

— After playing seldom-used Brandon Chauca as Singer’s backup vs. ASU, Martin made a bold move and went to freshman forward Jaylen Brown in that role vs. Arizona. The 6-foot-7 Brown excelled, dishing a career-best seven assists to give Singer rest and provide a different look for the Wildcats.

*****

Cal climbed to No. 38, respectively, in the RPI computer Monday morning after its weekend home sweep. The Bears (13-0) remain perfect at home.

Now they hit the road again, and we’ll begin to find out if the Bears can continue their climb up the Pac-12 ladder.

Cal’s wins over the Arizona schools followed an 0-for-2 trip to Oregon which dropped the Bears’ record outside Berkeley to 1-6. They take an 0-3 conference road record to Utah on Wednesday and Colorado on Sunday.

*****

Ivan Rabb is the only Pac-12 player among 10 midseason candidates for the Waymon Tisdale Award, given to the nation’s top freshman. The Oakland native is averaging 12.6 points and 8.4 rebounds and shooting 64.2 percent.

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Cal football: Daniel Lasco shines at Shrine Game

Former Cal running back Daniel Lasco, injured for much of last season, showed a little of what he can do Saturday by rushing for a game-high 62 yards to help the West team to a 29-9 victory in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Lasco included a 42-yard run among his six carries.

Meanwhile, defensive end Kyle Kragen had 2 1/2 sacks and 3 total tackles for Team National in its 18-17 victory over Team American at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Stub Hub Center at Carson. Bryce Treggs also played in the game, catching one pass for 15 yards and returning a kickoff for 26 yards for Team National.