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.



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.


Cal basketball: Bears upset No. 12 Arizona

For most of the 11,858 fans at Haas Pavilion on Saturday, this was the kind of moment they expected to share with the Cal basketball team: A pulsating 74-73 upset victory over Pac-12 Conference favorite Arizona.

Freshman Jaylen Brown, whose free throw with 18.4 seconds left provided the margin of victory, felt exactly the same way.

“This is definitely a signature milestone check for me coming to Cal,” said Brown, a top-5 national recruit whose arrival on campus helped send expectations skyrocketing. “This is a game we expected to win, a game we wanted to win.”

With an ESPN audience and the season’s first capacity crowd watching, guard Jordan Mathews scored 20 of his season-high 28 points in the second half and Cal’s foul-plagued big men stayed on the floor to contain the 12th-ranked Wildcats’ huge, physical frontline.

Arizona (16-4, 4-3) had one last shot, but guard Gabe York briefly lost the handle on the dribble, then reversed his direction and drove right. Defended tightly by Jabari Bird, he missed a 6-foot runner with 2 seconds left.

The Bears (14-6, 4-3) celebrated with their fellow students, who rushed the floor and soaked in the victory for more than five minutes.

Cal coach Cuonzo Martin called it “a great win for our guys, for our program,” and saluted the three-decade dominance of the Wildcats. Celebrities in the crowd included Joe Kapp, Jared Goff, Missy Franklin and Bob Melvin, but also former Arizona coach Lute Olson, who built the Wildcats from nothing into a national power.

“We hope to be that one day, but it takes time,” Martin said. “Continue to chop wood.”

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Cal basketball: Can Bears avoid an epidemic of fouls while defending big and potent Arizona?

Arizona is big and experienced and accustomed to winning.

The 12th-ranked Wildcats also shoot free throws well – especially their starters – which will present quite a challenge to a Cal team that has committed 96 fouls the past four games.

The teams picked to finish 1-2 in the Pac-12 before the season began, have found the going a bit tougher since conference began. The 12th-ranked Wildcats (16-3, 4-2) sit in a three-way tie for second place. Cal (13-6, 3-3) is part of a five-way logjam for fifth.

They meet Saturday evening at Haas Pavilion (5:30 p.m./ESPN), and the Bears understand they are facing a team featuring four senior starters.

“Obviously, they’re the team to beat because they won the league last year,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “When you have that level of experience that means you’re battle tested. For us, it’s playing as hard as we can play, executing our game plan.”

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Cal basketball: Bears hold off ASU, 75-70

The new-look Cal basketball team showed off an inside-out offense but the Bears still needed to overcome recent demons to claim a 75-70 win over Arizona State in front of an announced crowd of 9,096 at Haas Pavilion on Thursday night.

With junior Sam Singer replacing injured all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace and freshman forward Ivan Rabb scoring a career-high 20 points, the Bears (13-6, 3-3 Pac-12) snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed unbeaten in 12 home games.

But it wasn’t easy.

ASU (11-8, 1-5) fought all the way back from a 14-point deficit with just under 13 minutes left, knotting the score at 65-all before the Bears seized control.

The Bears, who shot just 58 percent from the free throw line in road losses to Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford, hit six straight – two each by Jaylen Brown, Jordan Mathews and Singer – in the final 27 seconds to ice the win.

The Sun Devils, who beat Cal by 35 points here last season, made just one field goal in the final 4½ minutes.

“It says we’re tired of losing,” Rabb said of the way the Bears played down the stretch. “We dialed it in on defense at the end – that’s how you win games.”

Singer does not provide the explosive scoring that Wallace gives the Bears, but he had eight assists to go with six points and six rebounds in 35 solid minutes. He also helped limit ASU point guard and leading scorer Tra Holder to nine points on 2-for-11 shooting.

“I felt really comfortable out there,” said Singer, who moved into the starting unit after Wallace broke his right hand in practice on Saturday. “I’ve learned a lot from guarding him in practice, learned a lot in conversations with him. He told me to keep being aggressive. I just tried to take little pieces of his game.”

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Cal basketball: ASU provides 1st test sans Ty Wallace

As Cal prepares to play the Pac-12’s last-place team on Thursday night, at least the Bears (12-6, 2-3) shouldn’t have to deal with overconfidence.

After all, they have lost their past three games this season and five in a row to Arizona State (11-7, 1-4), which returns to Haas Pavilion a year after smashing Cal 79-44. Tipoff is 6 p.m. (FoxSports1).

Then there’s the matter of the Bears playing their first game since senior point guard and returning all-Pac-12 selection Tyrone Wallace broke a bone in his right wrist in practice on Saturday.

“If you have a player like Tyrone who’s so talented and can do so many things on the court, sometimes you kind of allow him to do everything,” junior guard Jabari Bird said. “With him out, guys will definitely focus on doing more and not relying on him.

“Everybody can do this, and we understand that. It’s going to be a team effort. We have to focus on defense, share the ball on offense, and I think we’ll be all right.”

Wallace, who leads the Bears in scoring (15.4) and assists (4.6) and is their only scholarship senior, will miss four to six weeks.

Coach Cuonzo Martin says no one needs to don a cape and mask to try to compensate.

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Cal basketball: Brian Hendrick into Pac-12 Hall of Honor

Brian Hendrick, who sits ninth on Cal’s career scoring list and fourth among the school’s all-time rebounders and twice helped the Bears to the NCAA tournament, has been named as the school’s representative to the 2016 Pac-12 Hall of Honor class.

Hendrick and honorees from the other 11 schools will be recognized in a ceremony prior to the Pac-12 tournament championship game on March 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

A 6-foot-8 power forward, Hendrick scored 1,556 points and grabbed 898 rebounds from 1990 through 1993. He was the Bears’ leading scorer as a sophomore (17.6) and junior (16.1) and earned a spot on the all-conference first team both seasons.

After collecting Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 1990 when he averaged 14.9 points per game, Hendrick had 13 points and 10 rebounds in Cal’s 65-63 win over Indiana in the opening round of the NCAA tournament — the Bears’ first NCAA appearance in 30 years.

Three years later, playing alongside Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray, he averaged 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds during the regular season, then contributed eight points and 12 rebounds to the Bears’ 82-77 win over two-time defending national champion Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Hendrick averaged 11.2 points in five NCAA tournament games for the Bears.

The Pac-12 Hall of Honor was introduced in 2002, with legendary coach Pete Newell selected as the Bears’ inaugural representative. Since then, Cal’s yearly honorees are: Kevin Johnson, Darrall Imhoff, Kidd, Andy Wolfe, Russ Critchfield, Charles Johnson, Nibs Price, Earl Robinson, Bob McKeen, Murray, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Dave Butler and Sean Lampley.

Others chosen to the 2016 Pac-12 Hall of Honor class include Stanford’s Kim Belton, Arizona’s Salim Stoudamire, Oregon’s Luke Ridnour and Washington’s Isaiah Thomas.