Senior point guard Aaron Brooks led Oregon with 22 points, and played a brilliant game. In addition to his scoring, Brooks had six assists and no turnovers. The Ducks shot 57% from the floor for the game, and hit 12 for 22 from outside the three-point arc, including 4 for 5 by Brooks.
Cal played a very strong first half, but left everyone in the joint wondering whether they could keep it up in the second half. The tempo was lightning fast. After falling behind 10-5, the Bears went on a 10-0 run fueled by two Omar Wilkes three-pointers and two inside hoops by Ryan Anderson.
Two free throws by Anderson made it 29-19 Cal, with just under 10 minutes left in the half. The Ducks cut it to 4, but Cal responded with a Theo Robertson three and a Wilkes back cut lay-up to build an eleven point lead, 40-29. Brooks hit a three and then a drive to the hoop to make it 46-38 at the break. Cal shot a scintillating 59% from the field and was 6-11 on threes. Cal out-rebounded the home team 16-7. The Ducks stayed in the game with 56% shooting and 5 out of 10 on three-pointers. Ben Braun said, "That's as good a first half as we've played probably this year in this league. That was an outstanding first half effort."
|AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Theo Robertson on Defense
Oregon came out with great energy after the break and immediately launched a 17-4 run to wipe out the Cal lead. They picked it up on the defensive end, and did a much better job on Anderson in the second half. Braun said, "I thought Ryan rushed a couple of shots inside. They got down on him pretty quickly. Maarty Leunen did a nice job, with help from his teammates."
Brooks hit two threes, and his drive to the goal tied the game at 48. Cal called time with 17:27 left and regained the lead on a pull-up jumper by Ayinde Ubaka. Bryce Taylor responded with another three to give the home team the lead, as the Ducks eventually built a 62-54 advantage. Ubaka and Eric Vierneisel hit consecutive threes, and Jerome Randle's driving bucket tied the score at 62. Ernie Kent called time with 11:18 remaining.
The Ducks responded against the Cal zone with a long-range three from Brooks to take the lead for good. When Malik Hairston drove the baseline and dunked over Anderson with 6 minutes left, drawing the fourth foul on Cal's star freshman, it was all but over. Hairston finished the old style three-point play, and Oregon led 78-69. Threes by Hairston, Taylor, and outstanding free throw shooting sealed the deal.
They showed great heart and competitiveness, but Cal simply did not do enough on defense to win this game. Braun noted several breakdowns in their transition defense in the second half. In the half court, Cal was never able to put a string of stops together. Except for the drought at the start of the second half, Cal's offense was effective. The Bears shot 53% for the game, with 48% in the second half. They made 10 for 21 on threes, and were perfect from the foul line with 12-12 shooting.
|AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Although they felt that they let an opportunity slip away, it wasn't all bad news. As Braun said, "There's so many positives today that we can point to. We've just got to be able to put two halves together, and I told our guys we're that close."
The crucial three game home stand with UCLA, USC, and Stanford will reveal a lot about this team. Starting with Thursday's dinner hour contest against the Bruins (note: a 6 p.m. tip-off), the Bears will need to pick up the effort on the defensive end. UCLA may not have the offensive weapons that Oregon possesses, but they do have Arron Afflalo, and he has burned Cal in the past. The Bruins can also play suffocating man-to-man defense.
Cal will need to bring their "A" game on Thursday to have a chance.
- Theo Robertson's 19 points were a career high.
- Cal won the rebound battle for the third straight game, 27-23. However, they were out-rebounded in the second half.
- Oregon made 20 of 22 free throw attempts.
- All five Oregon starters scored in double figures.
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