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Basketball: Cal-Stanford game thread

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 69, Cal 59. Cal delivered one of its most inspired efforts in weeks, but ultimately had no answer for Stanford’s clutch seniors.

Chasson Randle scored 25 points and Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic combined for 33 more as the Cardinal maintained its hold on second place in the Pac-12 Conference with a 69-59 victory before an announced crowd of 8,819 at Haas Pavilion.

Brown had 18 points and nine rebounds and Nastic contributed 15 points and nine rebounds, and the three seniors scored 27 of the Cardinal’s final 32 points. Stanford (12-4, 4-1) won for the sixth time in seven games.

Tyrone Wallace had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bears (11-7, 1-4), but shot just 6 for 22. Cal, which led 31-26 at halftime, lost for the sixth time in seven games after shooting 35.5 percent for the game.

10:29 2nd H: Stanford 47, Cal 43. Dwight Tarwater answered a 3-pointer by Brown with one of his own — the senior transfer making a difference with 8 points and 8 rebounds. But Randle came back with another 3-pointer — this one from about 23 feet. Randle has 19 points.

15:53 2nd H: Stanford 37, Cal 37. Stanford much more aggressive to start the second half — a reversal since the first half. Rebounds are 5-1 for Stanford so far. Brown shoot 2 FTs after the timeout.

HALFTIME: Cal 31, Stanford 26. Bird scored eight points and Wallace had six points, five rebounds and three assists before sitting down with two fouls. Cal shot 38.7 percent in the half, Stanford 41.7. Cal with a 22-14 rebounding edge.

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Basketball: Sean Lampley named to Hall of Honor

Sean Lampley, who retired as Cal’s career scoring leader, has been chosen for induction into the Pac-12 Conference Hall of Honor.

One representative from each conference school will be recognized during ceremonies prior to the Pac-12 tournament championship game on March 14 in Las Vegas.

Lampley, the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2001, finished his career with 1,776 points, a school record since eclipsed by Jerome Randle. Upon his departure from Cal, Lampley was the only player in school history ranked among the program’s top-10 in scoring, rebounding and assists.

He averaged 19.5 points as a senior and two years earlier was named MVP after Cal’s run to the postseason NIT title.

Others selected to the Hall of Honor were former Arizona coach Fred Snowden and players Ron Riley of Arizona State, Jim Davis of Colorado, Anthony Taylor of Oregon, Jim Jarvis of Oregon State, Dave Meyers of UCLA, Alex Hannum of USC, Casey Jacobsen of Stanford, Danny Cranes of Utah, Jon Brockman of Washington and Bennie Seltzer of Washington State.

Past Hall of Honor selections from Cal include Pete Newell, Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd, Darrall Imhoff and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

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Basketball: Bird says he’s ready to provide a spark

Declaring that he is “feeling great” after missing 10 games with a foot injury then suffering cramps in his return at UCLA, Cal guard Jabari Bird he hopes to provide his slumping team with a spark against rival Stanford on Wednesday night.

The Bears (11-6, 1-3 Pac-12) have lost five of their past six games, and even leading scorer Tyrone Wallace is being hemmed in by defenses determined not to let him beat them.

“I’ve got to knock down shots, keep the defense honest, help Tyrone out by doing that. I’ve got to play defense, rebound the ball,” Bird said. “Just provide some energy off the bench, be a spark.”

Coach Cuonzo Martin doesn’t want Bird to put too much pressure on himself against the Cardinal (11-4, 3-1), which has won five of six.

“Just play. When you’re thinking, it consumes you and you’re not as effective as you need to be,” Martin said. “You’ve got to play the game.”

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Basketball: As they prepare to clash Wednesday, why Cal and Stanford are headed in opposite directions

Stanford and Cal, which meet for the first time this season on Wednesday night at Haas Pavilion, are headed in opposite directions two weeks into the Pac-12 schedule.

The Cardinal (11-4), which got a split in Los Angeles last weekend, sits alone in second place in the Pac-12 standings at 3-1. Stanford has won five of six.

The Bears (11-6), swept by USC and UCLA, have sunk to a tie for ninth in the conference at 1-3. Cal has lost five of six.

A look at how they compare in four areas helps explain their current trajectories:

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Basketball: UCLA game thread — Bears fall, but Martin says Jabari Bird just had cramps, nothing more

FINAL SCORE: UCLA 73, CAL 54. Jabari Bird’s return to action after missing 10 games ended Sunday with a cramp – nothing more, according to Cal coach Cuonzo Martin. But the news otherwise continues to be discouraging for the Golden Bears.

Cal lost 73-54 to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, its fifth defeat in six games after a 10-1 start to the season. The Bears (11-6) take a 1-3 Pac-12 record into Wednesday’s home matchup with rival Stanford.

Martin said he has heard nothing that would prevent Bird from facing the Cardinal, even though the sophomore guard limped off the court with 2:30 left in the first half and did not return.

It isn’t serious, Martin said, and not related to the stress fracture in his left foot that Bird suffered Nov. 30. Initially, Martin called it a hamstring injury, then corrected himself.

“Excuse me, cramps,” he said. “They just said cramps. . . . I think he’ll be fine, as far as I know.”

Martin said he held Bird out of the second half because he “didn’t want to chance it.”

Teammate David Kravish, interviewed separately, also referred to Bird’s ailment as cramps. Bird, the former McDonald’s All-American from Richmond’s Salesian High, was not available for comment after a scoreless eight-minute stint.

UCLA (10-7, 2-2) opened the second half with a 16-3 run to take charge. The Bruins completed a weekend home sweep of the Bay Area schools after losing five straight games.

Jordan Mathews scored 23 points for the Bears, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range. He is averaging 23.8 points through four Pac-12 games. Kravish had nine points and 14 rebounds for the Bears.

But the Bears struggled again on offense, shooting 40 percent with 16 turnovers. In their past five defeats, the Bears are averaging just 57.0 points.

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Basketball: Struggling Bears visit UCLA

What chance do the reeling Golden Bears (11-5, 1-2 Pac-12) have Sunday afternoon against UCLA (9-7, 1-2) at Pauley Pavilion?

Well, consider the odds that Washington State would open the Pac-12 schedule with three road games and win two of them. The Cougars, who upset Cal a week ago, knocked off rival Washington 80-77 in Seattle on Saturday night.

So go figure.

The Bears are coming off a 71-57 loss at USC, after which senior David Kravish called out his team for being soft. He called the performance “ridiculous.”

Cal has lost four of five after starting the season 10-1.

The Bruins snapped a five-game losing streak Thursday with their 86-81 double-overtime win over Stanford. UCLA got it done by overpowering Stanford inside — freshman forward Kevon Looney had 27 points and 19 rebounds, and junior Tony Parker had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

If UCLA is smart and follows the game plan against Cal used by WSU and USC — to be patient, play a halfcourt game and feed the post — the Bears will have a tough time.

But if the Bruins decide to run — and they are capable — they give the Bears a chance.

My read on the Pac-12 after nearly two weeks is that Arizona and Utah are in a class by themselves. Otherwise, it’s gonna be very tough for most teams to win on the road.

Well, apparently, except Washington State.

PAC-12 STANDINGS: Utah 3-0; Arizona 2-0; Colorado 2-1; Oregon 2-1; Stanford 2-1; WSU 2-1; Oregon St. 1-1; Cal 1-2; UCLA 1-2; USC 1-2; ASU 0-3; Washington 0-3.

SUNDAY’S GAMES: Cal at UCLA, 4:30 p.m. (FoxSports1); Arizona at Oregon State, 7 p.m. (FoxSports1); Stanford at USC, 7 p.m. (ESPNU).

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Football: Sonny Dykes talks recruiting

My conversation this week with Cal coach Sonny Dykes on the state of their recruiting with less than three weeks until signing day.

* How have you guys been received since the end of the season? And given that nothing is final until signing day, what do you think of the state of your class so far?

“I’m really encouraged. I think it was pretty obvious to people across the country that we got better. Certainly potential college football players see the trajectory of the program. The first year you’re just trying to hold onto the class they’d recruited here. The second year was tough just because of the kind of season we had. This year I think kids can see where we’re headed and I think they’re excited about it. I feel like we have a lot of momentum.

“We’re a lot further along than we were a year ago. We’ve identified guys a lot earlier. We’ve established much better relationships with coaches and players. There’s just a lot more doors that are open to us now. I’m really encouraged and I think it’s going to continue to get nothing but better.

“There’s four or five key players that we need to close strongly on. If we can do I think we’ll be really excited about this class and ready to start on the next one. The next one will be better than this one.

“That’s what we’re doing – we’re making sure we get better every year. They saw how close we were to being a really good football team in the best league in college football. They see the youth on our team and the number of returning starters coming back. And they get a pretty clear message that we’re headed in a good direction and I think they want to be a part of it.”

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Football: Bears on way to solid recruiting class

Recruits may be waiting to see if Cal football’s improvement can be sustained before making a mad rush to Memorial Stadium.

With signing day four weeks away, the Golden Bears appear on their way to landing a solid class of newcomers capable of addressing some specific areas of need. But the 20 prospects Cal already has lined up don’t constitute a recruiting haul significantly better than a year ago, even though the Bears made a leap from 1-11 in 2013 to 5-7 in coach Sonny Dykes’ second season.

“They’re developing a good class,” said Adam Gorney, West Coast recruiting expert for Rivals. “They just have to win on the field and kids will take notice.”

Currently, Rivals rates Cal’s class No. 35 in the country and ninth in the Pac-12. Scout has elevated the Bears from 11th in the conference six weeks ago to ninth, but lists them just 49th nationally.

A year ago, Cal was rated No. 44 by Scout, No. 46 by Rivals, and eighth in the conference by both recruiting services.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Basketball: USC game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: USC 71, Cal 57. The Bears (11-5, 1-2 Pac-12) lost for the fourth time in five games after a 10-1 start. Once again, offense was the problem. They finished at 35.4 percent from the field, but were shooting under 30 percent until the final 5 minutes, at which point the Trojans (9-6, 1-2) had a 19-point lead. Cal was 4 for 20 from th3 3-point arc.

Tyrone Wallace scored 21 points — many of them late — and Jordan Mathews added 17.

Cuonzo Martin said he was satisfied first-time starters Roger Moute a Bidias and Kingsley Okoroh contributed enough effort that he intends to start them again Sunday against UCLA. Moute a Bidias had four points, six rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in 25 minutes, and Okoroh had four points, six rebounds and three turnovers in 22 minutes.

David Kravish got into early foul trouble and finished with just eight points on 4 for 12 from the field, to go with seven rebounds.

7:45 2nd H: USC 55, Cal 43. Cal running out of time. Jovanovic, who has 14 points, has scored in the lane three times in the past four minutes. Kravish, with three fouls, cannot challenge him.

11:20 2nd H: USC 46, Cal 37. The Bears got within seven points when Wallace scored on a drive. But he missed the ensuing FT and Nikola Jovanovic answered with a shot from the lane for the Trojans.

14:58 2nd H: USC 42, Cal 31. The Bears scored on their first possession of the half, but are shooting 1 for 11 in the period. The two teams have combined to miss their past 13 attempts from the field. Cal at 11 for 40 (27.5 percent) for the game.

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Basketball: Bears need offensive lift vs. USC

The two least efficient offenses in the Pac-12 collide Wednesday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles when Cal (11-4, 1-1) meets USC (8-6, 0-2).

Something has to give.

Tipoff is 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Trojans, who rank last in the conference in scoring, 3-point accuracy and free throw accuracy, and 11th in field-goal percentage, are 219th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to statistician Ken Pomeroy. USC averages just 98.3 points per 100 possessions.

But Cal isn’t much better off, ranked 192th at 99.9 points per 100 possessions.

For purposes of comparison, Duke leads the nation at 122.0.

When you consider that the Bears are 43rd nationally in adjusted defense, allowing just 92.7 points per 100 possessions, it’s clear their problems are primarily on the offense end.

Cal started the season 10-1, with only a loss to Texas. But the Bears have dropped three of their past four games, including to Cal State Bakersfield and Washington State — both of those at home.

Although the Bears give up six more points per game in their defeats than in their victories, their offense has been the primary culprit. The disparity there is much greater: 73.2 points in wins, just 57.3 in losses.

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