BERKELEY – It was a retro kind of night for California. Former quarterback Jared Goff was in the house. So was former Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin. So was the Cal football team, with its Armed Forces Bowl trophy. And, playing the role of Justin Cobbs, who once downed then-No. 1 Arizona in the final seconds of the match-up in Haas Pavilion on Feb. 1, 2014, was Jaylen Brown.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1635500-recruit-reaction-b...The true freshman – hitting 63.8% of his free throws coming into the night – drew the fifth foul from now-No. 11 Arizona's big man Kaleb Tarczewski, missed his first free throw – off the top of the backboard, no less – and then swished his final freebie, putting the Bears up 74-73, for the final margin.
"This is a milestone for me; it's a signature win," said Brown, who went 7-of-11 from the free throw line, and 4-of-6 in the second half. "We have so much to learn, so much to build on. We made some mistakes that we probably shouldn't have made. We're developing every day, filling rolls we're not used to playing, so we have a lot of room to grow, but that's a good thing, because the sky's the limit."
As for that final free throw?
"It's just a regular free throw, no pressure, same shot I hit in the gym by myself," Brown said. "I still think I could have finished [the drive], but I got to the line."
Brown also had seven assists, and played point guard when Sam Singer was on the bench.
"It's something I have to work on, with my ball handling," Brown said. "Coach asked me to do it after Tyrone Wallace went down. Those are big shoes you have to fill, a senior point guard who averages four or five assists. I ran the point at my high school, played one through five at my high school."
"A guy playing 6-7, 6-8, handling the ball, it's hard to defend that, because you're not used to it," head coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Jaylen's a god basketball player. He knows how to do a lot of things -- handle the ball, shoot the ball, make plays off the dribble. He plays basketball, and he plays on both ends of the floor. He's improved on both ends -- defending, playing sound. He was an advantage all night for us on the ball screens. They bigs have to step up and help, and you have to have to identify that."
Without Tarczewski on the court to probe the tender middle of Cal’s low-post defense in the final 13 seconds, Arizona went to Gabe York, who, after nearly losing the ball up top against Jabari Bird, tried to go over both Brown and Ivan Rabb on the right block, with Singer also in the mix, missing his lay-up as the buzzer sounded, and sending a Gold Out crowd at Haas Pavilion onto the floor.
"I think on that play, one through five knew to switch on ball screens, and I take my chance with him trying to go over the top of Ivan Rabb," Martin said.
It may not have been as dramatic as Cobbs’s game-winning three-pointer, but it did the trick.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1635266-cal-hosts-arizona-... Brown wasn’t alone, though. After finishing the first half down by two, the Bears found more heroics in junior Jordan Mathews, who scored 20 of his game-high 28 points after halftime.
"Teammates found me," Mathews said. "Jaylen found me in the corner a few times, came off a down screen, hit a jumper, great draws by coach and my teammates found me."
The Santa Monica (Calif.) alum was 2-for-6 from three-point range in the first half, and could not get his shot going from anywhere on the floor, going 3-of-7. At one point, the 44-percent three-point shooter missed four straight from beyond the arc. Still, California was within two points of No. 11 Arizona. Then, after the half, something changed.
"He said we had to keep fighting that fight," Brown said Martin. "He said you've got to fight and win the boards to win the game."
The Bears did their part on the boards, pulling down 12 offensive rebounds, including five after the half, leading to 12 second-chance points.
Mathews started the second half 4-of-7 from the field, and hit 3-of-5 from three-point range, icing two free throws with just over four minutes left to keep the Bears ahead by five. He scored 13 of Cal’s first 29 points after the break.
The Wildcats spent much of the first half in zone, daring Cal to hit outside shots, and the Bears were not up to the task, going 2-of-10 from beyond the arc, with the only makes a three by Mathews at 11:23 and then another with two seconds left in the half, going 0-for-4 between those.
"That second three, from the corner, that's when I started feeling it," Mathews said.
As soon as Mathews started burying three-pointers, Arizona went back to man.
The Bears struggled from the field before the break – going 14-of-31, with just four assists – as Singer – who played 18 first-half minutes – worked the ball around to struggling shooters. After two quick buckets to open the game, Bird went 0-for-2 from the field for the final 18:49 of the half.
Arizona played mostly with a two-big lineup, featuring Ryan Anderson (18 first-half minutes, 10 points), Tarczewski (14 first-half minutes, 2 rebounds, 6 points), and Dusan Ristic, who went to the free throw line twice and pulled down three offensive rebounds in 10 first-half minutes, and Rooks and Okoroh each had three fouls after the first half.
Arizona owned the paint, out-scoring the Bears 26-12 at halftime.
The size that the Wildcats presented forced Cal to play Rabb with either Rooks or Okoroh, and when Rabb needed rest, to put the other on the floor. That strategy would loom large later in the second half.
Okoroh got his fourth foul just 13 seconds into the second half, but Arizona wasted two possessions, with a turnover and a fumble out of bounds, the first leading to a Bird three.
A run-out by Singer then led to a trip to the line by Brown. Singer had Rabb open on the right block, but didn’t see him, instead looking for the other five-star freshman, who hit two of three from the line, forcing an Arizona time out with 18:11 to go, and the Bears up, 40-37.
Over the first 3:28 of the second half, the Wildcats had five turnovers and just two shots -- both misses.
"We talk about active hands, especially with Gabe York," Martin said. "They like to come off ball screens and lob the ball. Make those guys take an extra dribble. I thought our backside help helped the extra turnovers."
After Singer cameup with a big tip out of Bird rebound to Rooks at the top of the key, things looked to be turning, as Brown lost the ball to York.
Brown chased York the length of the floor for a volleyball spike block, and a minute later, Bird nailed a corner three to give Cal a six-point lead.
"It's a switch in momentum, the crowd gets back into it, and that's what that did, after I turned it over," Brown said. "I think that switched the momentum back to us."
York then forced a shot as the shot clock expired, but it was waved off, giving Arizona six turnovers and two missed shots in the first 3:55 of the second half.
"I thought we were more intuitive in the second half," Martin said, "and that's what caused the turnovers."
York then drew Rooks’s fourth foul fo the night on a drive, getting Arizona’s first points of the second half with 15:40 to go with the hoop and the harm.
After a mid-post finger-roll by Brown, a Rooks rebound led to a Singer run-out, and the junior out of Miami found Mathews in the corner off the break, where the sniper hit the first of two straight threes to give the Bears their largest lead of the night at that point, at nine with 14:12 remaining.
Rooks got two offensive rebounds on the next Cal possession, but the Bears got everything but the basket, allowing Allen to hit a three from the left corner to make it a four-point game.
"We could have crumbled," Mathews said, "but we didn't. We showed some growth tonight."
Mathews continued his work, and with Singer on the bench to rest, hit a jumper from the right elbow, then got an assist on a Rabb bank-in to make it 55-49.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1635503-recruit-reaction-l... Then, Brown went up for a second-effort bucket in the paint, hanging in the air and pushing just a matter of inches more to throw the ball in the hoop, giving Cal a 57-49 advantage.
On the Bears' next possession, Brown nearly lost the ball to Justin Simon, poking it to mid-court, but he recovered, pushed through Simon’s tough defense and kicked out to Mathews in the right corner. Mathews shot faked Allen, and comes up under him to hit a three, making it 60-53.
With 4:16 left, Rabb re-entered the game with four fouls, joining Rooks, who also had four fouls, while Okoroh, also with four fouls, sat on the bench. But, by the end of the game, only Rooks fouled out.
"Both of them are really good ost defenders, but to stay aggressive, and not relinquish any baskets, that's a credit to them," Mathews said. "We all appreciate what they did for us tonight."
Rabb then got fouled on the in-bounds off of Cal’s final time out, but missed his free throw.
Brown picked up a loose-ball turnover, and ran the break with Mathews, who laid it up to extend the lead to 66-62.
Then, Rooks, who had played defense so carefully against Tarczewski, and had a team-high seven rebounds, fouled the Arizona big man on a rebound, exiting the game with 3:20 to go.
Tarczewski hit both of his free throws to pull back to within two, and after a run-out by Allen tied the game, Mathews went back to work, hitting a three off a loose-ball turnover from Brown. Rabb drew Tarczewski’s fourth foul of the night, hit both of his freebies, and then Mathews drove past the Arizona defense in the paint, kissed the ball off the glass and in to push the Cal lead to five with 1:10 to go, a lead they nursed until the sell-out crowd of 11,858 -- the first sell-out of the year at Haas -- stormed the court.