My game story:
Rock bottom doesn’t describe the Cal basketball team’s first-half performance in a 79-45 loss to Arizona State in front of an announced crowd of 7,469 fans on Thursday night.
The Bears went 13 minutes, 2 seconds without scoring, allowing the Sun Devils to zoom into a 34-13 halftime lead in a matchup of teams that entered the night in a three-way tie for last place in the Pac-12 standings.
By the time it was over, Cal had absorbed its second-worst home defeat ever, its worst since a 36-point loss to ASU in 1979.
And the Bears had a seven-day break between games to prepare for this.
“We worked on our offense, trying to get some flow,” David Kravish said of those practices. “That didn’t happen.”
First-year coach Cuonzo Martin took the heat afterward.
“It’s my job as a coach to get our guys ready to play and compete. I didn’t do a very good job of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I saw this coming.”
The Bears (11-8, 1-5) have now lost seven of eight games since a 10-1 start and are tied with USC for last Pac-12. And guess what? No. 7 Arizona comes to Haas Pavilion on Saturday night.
“A new day tomorrow,” said guard Jordan Mathews, who led Cal with 11 points. “We’ve got to get ready for Arizona.”
A year ago, the Bears stunned the top-ranked and unbeaten Wildcats 60-58 at Haas.
“We played really hard, we played with a lot of energy, we believed in ourselves,” Kravish said of that victory. Asked if that belief is now shaken, he added, “I believe in every one of these guys.”
Martin stressed, “It’s one loss,” then recalled losing by 41 points to Indiana when he was a freshman at Purdue. “The key is you have to learn from it.”
The Bears’ first-half point total exceeded the five points they scored while shooting 2 for 25 in the opening period of a 57-44 loss to Notre Dame four years ago.
But for sheer lack of artistry, this one was stunning.