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Basketball: Two weeks to go, little resolved

There are two weeks left in the Pac-12 regular-season race and although Arizona appears to have a firm grip on first place, there are critical issues left unsettled.

The top four finishers earn first-round byes in the Pac-12 tournament and at least five more teams have legitimate designs on those spots.

“With the four games left,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, “some people have tougher jobs than others, but eveyrone’s got a chance.”

Here’s a look at the upper half of the conference and what lies ahead for each team:

* ARIZONA (12-2, 25-2)
vs. Cal, Wednesday, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
vs. Stanford, Sunday, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
at Oregon State, Wednesday, March 5, 8 p.m. (FoxSports1)
at Oregon, Saturday, March 8, 1 p.m. (CBS)

* UCLA (10-4, 21-6)
vs. Oregon, Thursday, 8 p.m. (FoxSports1)
vs. Oregon State, Sunday, 6 p.m. (FoxSports1)
at Washington, Thursday, March 6, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
at Washington State, Saturday, March 8, 8 p.m. (FoxSports1)

* CAL (9-5, 18-9)
at Arizona, Wednesday, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
at Arizona State, Saturday, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
vs. Utah, Wednesday, March 5, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
vs. Colorado, Saturday, March 8, 3:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

* STANFORD (9-5, 18-8)
at Arizona State, Wednesday, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
at Arizona, Sunday, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
vs. Colorado, Wednesday, March 5, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
vs. Utah, Saturday, March 8, 11:30 a.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

* COLORADO (9-6, 20-8)
at Utah, Saturday, 11 a.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
at Stanford, Wednesday, March 5, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
at Cal, Saturday, March 8, 3:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

* ARIZONA STATE (8-6, 19-8)
vs. Stanford, Wednesday, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
vs. Cal, Saturday, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
at Oregon, Tuesday, March 4, 8 p.m. (FoxSports1)
at Oregon State, Saturday, March 8, 1:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Under: Basketball, Pac-12 news | 3 Comments »
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Basketball: Dave Butler to Pac-12 Hall of Honor

Dave Butler, a four-year (1983-86) starting forward who helped Cal to its first postseason bid in 26 seasons, will be inducted into the Pac-12 Basketball Hall of Honor on March 14 during the conference tournament at Las Vegas.

Butler still ranks 19th on Cal’s career scoring list (1,291 points) and sixth in rebounding (814). He was Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1983 and led the Bears in rebounding three times.

He still holds the Cal record of 113 career starts and set single-game school marks of 20 free throws made and 24 attempts against Arizona State in 1987.

Butler and the Bears ended a 26-year postseason drought with an NIT appearance in 1986, and they returned the next year, advancing to the tournament’s quarterfinals.

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Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Under: Alumni, Basketball, Pac-12 news | No Comments »
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Basketball: UCLA tips off big week for Bears

With three weeks left in the Pac-12 regular season, the possibilities for the Cal and Stanford men’s basketball teams seem to be growing, not shrinking.

For Cal (18-7, 8-4), tied for third with Arizona State after a road sweep in Washington, there suddenly is a path opening to the conference championship.

And for Stanford (16-8, 7-5), still residing in the upper division of a conference getting increased respect from the bracketology crowd, the road to its first NCAA tournament bid in six seasons has become less cluttered.

But it all starts this week with UCLA.

The 23rd-ranked Bruins (20-5, 9-3) visit Cal on Wednesday and Stanford on Saturday. UCLA was impressive in beating both Bay Area schools in Los Angeles a month ago, but has shown vulnerability on the road in losses at Utah and Oregon State.

If the Bears or Cardinal can hold serve at home, the race at the top tightens.

Cal’s win over then-unbeaten Arizona demonstrated the Bears can play with anyone in the Pac-12, when properly inspired. They should be plenty motivated against UCLA, given what’s at stake.

Click here to read the rest of my college basketball column.

Posted on Monday, February 17th, 2014
Under: Basketball, NCAA Tournament, Pac-12 news | 4 Comments »
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Basketball: Pac-12 ready for Round 2

Here’s a look at what’s ahead as teams prepare to begin the second round of the Pac-12 schedule, with each team’s conference record in parenthesis:

1. ARIZONA (8-1)

The Wildcats looked invincible until coming to the Bay Area last weekend, when they squeaked by Stanford 60-57 and lost at Cal 60-58.

Home games remaining: Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford.
Road games remaining: Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State.
Miss: UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State.

Analysis: Arizona takes a two-game lead into the second go-round, but starting forward Brandon Ashley (foot) is done for the season and the Cats have shown limited depth so far. Plus, there isn’t an automatic road win left on their schedule. They’ll hold onto the regular-season title, but it won’t be a waltz.

2 tie. CAL (6-3)

The Bears have beaten the No. 1 team in the country and lost to the last-place team in the conference. Exactly where they belong on that vast continuum remains to be seen.

Home: Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Colorado.
Road: Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State.
Miss: Oregon, Oregon State.

Analysis: An important three-game stretch begins Wednesday with a home rematch against Stanford, then a trip to Washington. If the Bears want to set up a big game at Arizona on Feb. 26, they need to win these next three.

2 tie. UCLA (6-3)

Of all the teams I have seen in person against either Cal or Stanford, UCLA was most impressive, in both matchups. They also played Arizona close, then lost at Utah at Oregon State.

Home: Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Oregon State.
Road: USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington, Washington State.
Miss: Arizona, Arizona State.

Analysis: A loss at Oregon State on Super Bowl Sunday is bothersome because the Bruins had been playing at a high level. But that’s the road in any conference. UCLA doesn’t play again vs. Arizona, but its trip to the Bay Area in two weeks will be intriguing.

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Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Under: Basketball, Pac-12 news | 3 Comments »
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Basketball: Cal’s men/women easily the best combination in the Pac-12 so far

Which Pac-12 school has the most successful combination of men’s and women’s basketball programs?

It’s Cal, and so far this season it’s not close.

The Bears’ men and women each are off to 4-0 conference starts for a combined record of 8-0. Next is Stanford, whose women are 4-0 but men are just 2-2.

No school has a bigger disparity between the men and women than Arizona, whose men are No. 1 in the country and 4-0 in the Pac-12, while the women are 0-4.

Here are the combined Pac-12 basketball standings:

Cal: 4-0 + 4-0 = 8-0 
Stanford 4-0 + 2-2 = 6-2 
Arizona St.   2-2 + 3-1 = 5-3
Washington St.  1-4 + 4-0 = 5-4
Arizona 4-0 + 0-4 = 4-4
Colorado 3-1 + 1-3 = 4-4
UCLA  2-1 + 2-3 = 4-4
USC  0-3 + 4-1 = 4-4
Washington  3-2 + 1-3 = 4-5
Oregon St. 1-3 + 2-2 = 3-5
Oregon 1-3 + 0-4 = 1-7
Utah 1-3 + 0-4 = 1-7

Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Under: Basketball, Pac-12 news | No Comments »
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Basketball: WSU’s Lacy still out this week

Washington State will be without star guard DaVonte Lacy when it visits the Bay Area this week.

Cougars coach Ken Bone confirmed Tuesday that Lacy remains sidelined another 3 to 5 weeks after tests conducted to assess the progress of a rib cartilage injury he suffered Jan. 5 against Arizona State.

Lacy leads the Cougars in scoring at 17.7 points per game.

It’s been a rough few weeks for the junior guard, who underwent an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 28. He has played briefly in one game since — the ASU contest in which he sustained the rib injury.

WSU (8-8, 1-3 Pac-12) visits Stanford on Wednesday night, then Cal on Saturday afternoon.

The Cougars are averaging just 47.8 points in four Pac-12 games and three times have been held under 50. But they are coming off a 49-46 home victory over Utah.

Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Under: Basketball, Pac-12 news | 1 Comment »
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Basketball: Cobbs is Pac-12 Player of Week

Justin Cobbs, who averaged 20 points, 10 assists and 5.5 rebounds in road wins over Oregon and Oregon State, has been honored as the Pac-12 Player of the Week.

It’s the fourth weekly honors of Cobbs’ career. He joins teammate Tyrone Wallace among Cal players to get the award this season.

The Bears are 12-4 overall and off to their first 3-0 start in conference play since 2009. They have won their first three road conference games for the first time since 1957 and opened league play with a 3-0 start after three road games for the first time since 1939.

Cobbs had 20 points and a season-best 11 assists in the Bears’ win at then-17th-ranked Oregon on Thursday. He scored all 20 of his points in the second half and totaled nine assists as Cal rallied past Oregon State on Saturday.

The Pac-12’s active career assist leader, Cobbs moved into fifth place on Cal’s all-time assist chart with 430 in 83 career games. With his point total for the week, the senior moved up four spots to 28th on Cal’s all-time scoring list with 1,166 in his career.

Cal hosts Washington on Wednesday at p.m., then faces Washington State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

*****

Cal has climbed to No. 34 in the latest RealTimeRPI rankings.

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014
Under: Basketball, Honors, Pac-12 news | 14 Comments »
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Basketball: Mathews joins nice company

Cal’s Jordan Mathews put his name on an exclusive list Thursday night by scoring 32 points in the Bears’ 96-83 win at Oregon.

Mathews equaled the No. 4 scoring performance by a Pac-10/Pac-12 freshman in a conference road game, according to a list compiled by Arizona State sports information director Doug Tammaro.

Here’s the list:

37: O.J. Mayo, USC at Arizona State, March 1, 2008

34: Roberto Nelson, Oregon State at Arizona State, March 5, 2011

34: O.J. Mayo, USC at Cal, Jan. 3, 2008

32: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Cal at Washington State, Jan. 25, 1996

32: Jahii Carson, Arizona State at Washington, Feb. 2, 2013

32: Jordan Mathews, Cal at Oregon, Jan. 9, 2014

Posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014
Under: Basketball, Pac-12 news | 8 Comments »
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Football: Oregon announces Ragin has enrolled

Oregon announced that former Cal linebacker Johnny Ragin has enrolled at the Eugene, Ore., school and will be placed on scholarship immediately.

Ragin, who left Berkeley after his freshman season this fall, is a former three-star recruit and native of Wilsonville, Ore. He received a waiver from the Pac-12 Conference, allowing him accept an immediate scholarship and become eligible to play in 2015 after sitting out next season, Oregon said.

Ragin saw action in eight games for Cal last fall, totaling two tackles. He is the third Cal player to transfer since the end of the Bears’ 1-11 season.

Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Under: Football, Pac-12 news | 25 Comments »
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Basketball: A busy opening night in the Pac-12

Cal’s win at Stanford as a seven-point underdog wasn’t the only Pac-12 game that didn’t hold form on Thursday.

Here’s a quick rundown:

– Arizona 60, Washington State 25: The top-ranked Wildcats (14-0, 1-0) jumped out to a 21-2 lead as the short-handed Cougars (7-6, 0-1) missed their first 16 shots. The 25 points was the fewest scored by WSU since 1938. WSU played without top scorer DaVonte Lacy, who underwent an emergency appendectomy last Saturday.  

– Washington 76, Arizona State 65: The Huskies (9-5, 1-0) led by as many as 20 on the way to knocking off the Sun Devils (11-3, 0-1) in Tempe. C.J. Wilcox led the Huskies with 17 points. Jahii Carson scored 15 points for ASU, which shot just 39 percent.

– Oregon 70, Utah 68: Damyean Dotson’s breakaway dunk with 1 second left in overtime allowed the No. 10 Ducks (13-0, 1-0) to escape Salt Lake with a win over the Utes (11-2, 0-1). Richard Amardi scored 14 points to lead the Ducks. Jordan Loveride had 21 points for Utah.

– Colorado 64, Oregon State 58: The No. 20 Buffaloes (12-2, 1-0) held the Beavers (8-5, 0-1) to 37.5 percent and forced 17 turnovers to win in Boulder. Roberto Nelson scored 23 points for OSU and Eric Moreland had 10 rebounds in his first game since his suspension was lifted.

Posted on Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
Under: Basketball, Gameday, Pac-12 news | No Comments »
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