The 117 points are a Haas Pavilion record (in the past nine seasons). In this, Cal's 101st season, the Golden Bears posted their third-highest point total ever, trailing only the 127 points they scored against Oklahoma City on January 3, 1972, and the 121 against US International University (Point Loma, CA) on December 19, 1990.
DeVon Hardin said of the runaway victory, "I believe a lot of people have underestimated Cal - we don't put a lot of stock in the rankings, the proof is in playing every night. Going into the game, when we go out there we aren't competing against the opponent, we compete against ourselves and demand the best from ourselves every night. We want to play our best basketball every night. It doesn't matter if it's Jackson State, UCLA, or Memphis."
Cal took control of the game early with a 9-0 run over a three-minute stretch that saw them leading 13-6 at the 14:55 mark of the first half. Forward Ryan Anderson powered that run with seven points, then added the next six for good measure. When Cal coach Ben Braun rested Anderson at the 13:40 mark the El Dorado Hills native already had 13 points.
|AP Photo/George Nitikin
Anderson played sparingly the rest of the half and had just nine minutes playing time by the intermission; starting center DeVon Hardin played only four minutes, but totaled six points, three boards and a block in that short span.
The leading scorer in the half was swingman Patrick Christopher with 17. Christopher poured in 15 of those points in the final 9:06 of the period as Cal stretched their lead from 13 (31-18) to the 23-point bulge they enjoyed at the intermission after another run of 13-2 over a 4:11 stretch.
The 57-35 halftime lead can be keyed off just two stats: Cal shot 60.6% in the first half while holding Jackson State to 38.7%, and Cal had 12 assists and 4 turnovers, while the Tigers had 12 turnovers and 8 assists.
On paper, the game looked to be a mismatch from the outset. Cal entered play at 5-0, one of only three unbeaten teams west of the Rockies (WSU and St. Mary's were the others). The Jackson State Tigers team came in at just 1-7, with their only win over another one-victory team, Iona.
The Tigers had allowed 16.7 points per game more than they were scoring, while Cal was +8.4 ppg - a net difference of about 25 ppg, an enormous spread in college basketball. To make matters worse, Cal's starting five averages 6'-5", 216 pounds, while the Jackson State starters averaged 6-2", 178 - giving away 3 inches and 38 pounds per man. In addition, Cal was playing their fifth home game, while Jackson State was on the road for the seventh time in eight contests.
The Golden Bears used the same starting five in the second half, but apparently decided to work on some aspects of their offense. For the first four minutes, they pounded the ball inside relentlessly, with Hardin dropping in eight straight to stretch the lead to 65-37. Hardin and Anderson sat down at 16:10, and the Bears began working the ball around the perimeter.
After a Jerome Davis three-ball closed Jackson State back to within 23 (!) at 78-55, the Bears went on another run, outscoring the Tigers 14-5 in less than four minutes to push the lead to 92-60 with 7:52 to play.
Anderson finished the game with 23 points and five rebounds in just 19 minutes, while Hardin packed 17 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks into just 14 minutes of floor time. As Anderson said after the game, "It's a blessing to have DeVon playing this year - it's not very often that other teams can double me now."
Braun put those numbers into perspective: "I told DeVon that was the best 14-minute performance I've ever seen. Now, if he can just stay on the floor."
Hardin did struggle with fouls, collecting four.
The chants of "we want Fang" rose from the student section.
Instead, they got Hardin and Randle for a while longer, and Hardin keyed a break with a steal, then they watched a 3-ball from Randle. Moments later, a foul put Hardin on the line, and DeVon put a number on the board rarely seen at Hass - his free throw with 5:41 left allowed Cal to break the 100-point barrier for the first time since a double-overtime game vs. Oregon in 2002.
|AP Photo/George Nitikin
Christopher to the hoop
The balanced scoring amongst the Bears was keyed by one other telling stat: Cal finished the game with 28 assists, just four off the team record (1990). "It's a sign that your team is looking for each other," Braun said. "It's not about one guy carrying our team.
"With only 1 or 2 scorers, we were a pretty predictable team. Now, I think we present a tougher match up. Jerome Randle can break out (at) any time; Harper Kamp is proving he can score, and you know Patrick, DeVon and Ryan can score."
Hardin expressed the same sentiment: "It's a relief for me, because we haven't had a Cal team like this before - we can attack from every area on the floor - either post inside or any guard outside. It's hard for teams to cope with."
Eric Vierneisel entered the game at 4:46, replacing Christopher, who left with 26 points. Cal's lead continued to build until, after a bulge of 43, Thomas Fang and Patrick Armstrong both entered the game with 2:01 left. Armstrong dented the scoreboard with 35 seconds left, tallying the game's final two points - his first two in a Cal uniform.
It will get a little tougher Sunday. Cal plays in Manhattan, Kansas, for the first time ever, and the battle in the middle will be key, as Hardin will be matched up against Michael Beasley, the leading rebounder in the nation.
"Sunday is an opportunity to make a statement," Hardin said, "but it won't cap anything. Michael Beasley is a great player, and we're looking forward not to playing him, but (rather) the whole KSU squad."
When asked how he thinks that match up will go, Anderson said, "I don't know anybody in the country who can feel comfortable going against DeVon's huge hands and athleticism."
Braun spoke about Kansas State, and Cal's first national TV exposure of this season.
"I think our whole team knows the magnitude of the challenge on Sunday. They will be really good at home. They are hungry - a pre-season rated team (with) one of the top recruiting classes. That's a tough atmosphere there in Manhattan."
Asked if he thought Hardin was excited by the opportunity, Braun laughed. "DeVon has been excited every game he's ever played. The bad news is, when you get too excited, you end up sitting next to me."
This one went down easily. Now a serious challenge is on the docket.
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