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Basketball: USC game thread

FINAL SCORE: USC 70, Cal 56. The Trojans (19-13) were too big, too strong, too long, too quick. Alex Stepheson had 14 points and 16 rebounds for USC, Maurice Jones scored 16, Donte Smith 14 and Jio Fontan 12. Crabbe finished with 21 points for Cal (17-14), which had a four-game win streak snapped and now awaits a possible NIT bid.

2:44 2nd H: The comeback didn’t last long. USC answered with five straight points and leads 64-52.

6:38 2nd H: Crabbe just scored on a difficult floater off a drive, then a running 3-pointer, bringing Cal withn 59-49. In between, USC coach Kevin O’Neill looked at his assistants and asked, “Why didn’t we recruit this guy?”  Crabbe has 17 points.

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Basketball: USC scouting report

Don’t ask Mike Montgomery to project his team’s chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.

Or USC’s Kevin O’Neill, for that matter.

The fifth-seeded Golden Bears (17-13) and fourth-seeded Trojans (18-13) square off at 12:10 p.m. Thursday at the Staples Center in a Pac-10 tournament quarterfinal, and neither coach will be lured into trying to predict what his team must achieve this week to get the nod from the NCAA selection committee.

“This is same old same old for me,” Montgomery said. “It’s all about NCAA right now. All we can do is play SC and whatever happens happens. I don’t even concern myself with scenarios and arguments.

“They’ve got their criteria. We played the toughest preseason schedule in the country. We needed to get more wins, probably. At the end of the day, if the conference is not very highly thought of . . . if they’re battling to get three (Pac-10) teams in, I don’t know how they’re going to get four or five teams in.”

See, you couldn’t get the guy to talk about it if you paid him.

And O’Neill?

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Basketball: Oregon beats ASU in Pac-10 tourney

E.J. Singler scored 22 points and had four of Oregon’s 11 3-point baskets as the Ducks (15-16) posted a 76-69  victory over Arizona State, sending the Sun Devils (12-19) home from the Pac-10 tournament.

The Ducks play Thursday at 6 p.m. against No. 2 seed UCLA (22-9).

Trent Lockett shot 10 for 12 and scored 22 points for ASU, which had beaten Oregon in two previous meeetings.

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Basketball: Cal women top UW

Cal’s women, who had lost seven of their previous eight games, beat Washington 58-48 to advance into Thursday’s Pac-10 tournament quarterfinal.

The Bears (16-14) will play at 3 p.m. at the Galen Center against Arizona State (20-9), which topped Oregon State 50-41. Cal and ASU split two games this season.

Layshia Clarendon led Cal with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Talia Caldwell had 11 points and 13 rebounds and DeNesha Stallworth had 12 points and six rebounds. The Bears had lost twice to the Huskies (11-17) during the regular season.

USC (19-11) and Arizona (20-10) play in Thursday’s other quarterfinal, with the two winners advancing to the Friday semifinals at the Staples Center.

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Basketball: Live from the Pac-10 tournament — you will absolutely not believe this

We’re at halftime here at the Staples Center where Stanford is shooting 11.8 percent — that’s right — and trails Oregon State just 26-18 at halftime.

The Cardinal has made 4 of 34 shots, including 1 for 10 from 3-point range.

Dwight Powell scored a layup on Stanford’s first possession with 19:41 left, then the Cardinal made just one more field goal over the next 11 minutes.

Stanford was 3 for 30 at one point.

And the halftime margin is eight points.

This game ought to do wonders for helping the Pac-10 sell a new TV deal.

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Basketball: Pre-tournament writers roundtable

Here are results from a roundtable discussion of Pac-10 basketball that I was part of, along with Percy Allen of the Seattle Times, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, Bob Clark of the Eugene Register-Guard and Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic: 

Who will win the Pac-10 Tournament?

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times: “It depends on the status of UCLA guard Malcolm Lee. If he’s healthy and able to play, then the Bruins will be a tough out. If  not, I think Arizona takes the title. The Wildcats are the best team in the conference. It would be interesting to see an Arizona-USC rematch in the semifinals.”

Ben Bolch, The Los Angeles Times: “UCLA has played its best games under the brightest lights (i.e., Kansas, BYU, St. John’s, Arizona), so here’s predicting the up-and-down Bruins will pull together for three days in an NBA arena and benefit from USC’s semifinal upset of Arizona to win the tournament. UCLA will
have some shaky moments in the first round but ultimately prevail against  overmatched Arizona State. Then the Bruins will avenge their recent loss to Washington, which needed an otherworldly performance from C.J. Wilcox to prevail when the teams met in Seattle. In the championship game, UCLA will simply
overwhelm a fatigued USC.”

Bob Clark, The Eugene Register-Guard: “I like UCLA. Home team, they have enough depth and their big guys will still be big even when everyone else tires out. Best game of the tournament might be the Bruins and Huskies in the semifinals, if Washington can beat the Cougars this time.”

Jeff Faraudo, The Oakland Tribune: “UCLA. The Bruins will enjoy being back in LA, and will resume playing the kind of defense that fueled their recent surge.”

Doug Haller, The Arizona Republic: “Since the Pac-10 started up this tournament again in 2002, the top seed has won only three times. But I think Arizona gets it done this week. The Wildcats can do three things that will help them in Staples: They can shoot the three, they can get to the foul line and they can feed Derrick Williams.”

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Basketball: Cal women seek redemption, face Washington in Pac-10 tourney opener

The Cal women’s basketball team has skidded into the Pac-10 tournament with seven defeats in its past eight games, but forward DeNesha Stallworth believes the Golden Bears can turn the page on their season beginning Wednesday night.

“It’s time for us to redeem ourselves and show we can play,” the sophomore from Pinole said.

The sixth-seeded Golden Bears (15-14, 7-11) face Washington (11-16, 6-12) in a 7:15 p.m. game at USC’s Galen Center. A victory would push them into Thursday’s quarterfinal against either Arizona State or Oregon State.

The women’s tournament will move to the Staples Center for the semifinals on Friday, joining the Pac-10 men. Cal has advanced to at least the semifinal round four straight seasons.

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Basketball: Gutierrez, Montgomery earn spots in 10th annual Pac-10 Writers Survey

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez and coach Mike Montgomery earn prominent mention in our 10th annual Pac-10 Basketball Writers Survey.

Check out how the 27 writers we surveyed believe UCLA should decorate the playing floor after Pauley Pavilion is renovated next season.

And continue below to read more comments on all the questions we asked our panelists.

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