Arizona State came into Wednesday as one of the Pac-12's most frenetic, most productive teams on offense. The Sun Devils averaged 81.2 points per game, and were 53rd in the nation in adjusted tempo. Arizona State, though, ran into a defensive buzzsaw in California. The Bears turned in their best defensive first half of the season en route to a 68-43 win, in arguably their most complete game of the season, as the Sun Devils led for just 24 seconds.
Arizona State set season-lows for points, field goal percentage (25.4%) and three-point makes (3) on Wednesday.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1753701-cal-kansas-will-no... Cal (18-6, 9-3 in Pac-12) has now won eight of their past nine, and five straight, as they head into a clash with No. 9 Arizona on Saturday.
"That's not a good win; that's a great win," said head coach Cuonzo Martin. "To dominate a road game, that's a mindset."
The Sun Devils' Curtain of Distraction featured the stuff of nightmares -- animal-headed, singlet-clad students, followed by a masked clown jumping rope with a yellow chain -- but it wasn't Cal that appeared rattled. From 6:31 in the first half to 16:42 in the second, Arizona State missed 17 straight field goals.
"The whole week, we've been working on communication, having our hands out, and playing active on defense" said sophomore Ivan Rabb, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season, and the 25th of his 55-game career (only Josh Hawkinson has more among active Pac-12 players). "Tonight, it worked out. We played together as one unit, and when we play like that, we're tough."
Arizona State shot 15-for-59 from the field on the night, while Cal went 26-for-55 from the field and 8-for-23 from three, led by a game-high 18 points from Grant Mullins, who started with six straight makes -- all from three-point land -- and finished 6-for-9 from the floor, with all his shots coming from beyond the arc. He also grabbed six rebounds and added one assist.
Cal spent all but a handful of possessions in a 2-3 zone defense, very much out-of-character for a Martin team. The Bears all but dared the Arizona State -- a 37% three-point shooting team -- to fire away from beyond the arc, and fire away the Sun Devils did. Arizona State went 1-for-11 from long distance in the first half, and shot 7-for-29 from the field before intermission, going the final 6:27 of the first half without scoring a point.
Shannon Evans had six of the Sun Devils' 17 first-half points -- the fewest points Cal has allowed in a half all season -- after coming in with a 22.2-point average over his previous four. He finished with 10.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1753673-three-pronged-fork... The high-tempo Sun Devils were able to capitalize on the Bears' 11 first-half turnovers, scoring nine points off of Cal miscues, but thanks to a sizable mismatch down low in terms of pure bulk, the Bears out-rebounded Arizona State 23-13 before the break, led by seven from Rabb, who showed much more aggression and persistence on the glass and on the block than he has most of the season.
Rabb found shooters on the perimeter against the Sun Devils' double-team, adding two first-half assists as the Bears started 4-of-10 from beyond the arc.
"A lot of times, I'm a little too passive," Rabb said of the double-teams. "I try to pass the ball too much, but as the season's progressed, I've tried to ease into it, look to score first, be aggressive."
Mullins hit his first six shots -- all from three -- before missing two straight with six minutes to go in the game. The two rebounds on those misses by Rabb gave him his ninth double-double in Pac-12 play this season.
Arizona State went on an 11-4 run from 13:01 to 6:27 in the first half to take a one-point lead, but Rabb scored six of Cal's final 11 unanswered points as the low post cleared out, and the Sun Devils put as much of their length as they could out on the perimeter to slow the three-point barrage.
The Bears' lead opened up to 32-17 thanks to a second half-opening three from Mullins, but a free throw by Obinna Oleka got ASU's first points in over seven minutes with a free throw make at 17:54. Oleka finished with a team-high 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
As if to add to the Sun Devils' woes, Rabb hit a baseline wrap-around reverse with the left hand to give Cal a 35-18 lead with just under 17 minutes to go, and freshman Charlie Moore hit a coast-to-coast runner. Moor finishd with 11 points and three assists.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1753647-mark-smith-talks-c... Cal continued to drive and kick at will, with Domingo finding Mullins after double teams on both Rabb and Kameron Rooks to give Cal a 40-24 lead with 14:44 to go. Another three by Mullins got the lead up to 46-26 at the under-12 media time out. Rooks picked up his own rebound against Oleka off a jump hook and finished to give the Bears a 52-29 lead with 10:30 to go. Rooks finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Cal committed six turnovers in the second half, with Arizona Sate scoring six points off of those turnovers. The Bears finished with a 48-29 rebounding advantage, with 12 offensive rebounds. Rabb pulled down six of those offensive rebounds, with no other Bear pulling down more than two.
Junior center Kingsley Okoroh, playing with a broken nose, coughed up a loose ball early in the first half, but two possessions later, got his 120th career block, passing Richard Solomon for fifth all-time in Cal history. Midway through the second half, Okoroh took off his protective plastic mask and immediately hit a two-handed jam off a pass from Rabb, who had three assists on the night to go with his double-double.