Cal jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first 5½ minutes of the game with Jerome Randle leading the charge with 5 of Cal's points, and with Hardin's supporting strong rebounding and defense. Then with Hardin and Anderson taking a seat 6½ minutes into the game the Beavers switched to a more aggressive defense, occasionally semi-full court, and turned steals, blocked shots and Cal turnovers into an 18-2 run to take the lead at 16-22 - with 8 minutes left in the half.
During the Beaver's run, they hit 8 of 9 shots; during the rest of the half they hit only 3 of 29 from the field.
Hardin and Anderson returned to the floor with 8½ minutes left, and Vierneisel and Anderson combined for three threes - followed by a Randle and Christopher jumpers - to fuel a 15-0 run that pushed the score to 31-22.
When the buzzer sounded, Anderson had already tallied 12 points and 7 rebounds, a good night's work for many, but he wasn't done yet. Cal had led by as much as 10, OSU by as much as 6, but by deploying two streaks to OSU's one, the Bears had taken control of the game. Vierneisel had 5 points at the half, Patrick Christopher 4, Nikola Knesevic and Jamal Boykin 3 each.
Guard Josh Tarver had kept the Beavers in the game with 5 steals. Cal turnovers (10 in the half) and missed easy buckets plagued the Bears, but their pain was eased by playing against a team that shot just 29% from the floor vs. the Bears' 47%.
After the game Braun said, "Defensively I was pleased. I don't care who or where you play, holding a team to 32% (for the game) is a pretty darn good number." Oregon State coach Jay John countered with this: "We are not a good shooting team, at this point. That was the difference in the game in my view. We missed layups and missed some open jumpers." The Beavers managed just 4 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Forward Marcel Jones let the Beavers with 12 points. Patrick Christopher, who often draws the tough defensive assignments, defended Jones. Said Braun, "Well, Marcel has destroyed us - he beat us twice last year - we're very aware of what he has done. Patrick took the challenge on."
|AP PHoto/Ryan Gardner
Hardin opened the second half by missing 4 foul shots, but Christopher and Anderson righted the ship with two three-pointers layered around a Hardin jump-hook and a layup to push Cal's lead to 46-31, and even though the Beavers scrapped back, the Bears were never again headed.
Head Coach Ben Braun had challenged Hardin, his NBA-prospect center, to get more involved in the game, to play with more energy. Hardin responded to the challenge with an aggressive game, even if his stats (8 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots) were not in themselves outstanding.
"DeVon's energy was as good as I have seen in a long while ... he knows he's going to have to play through fatigue. Nobody was more disappointed the other night than DeVon Hardin - but he had some work to do - and (today) he got it done."
Braun helped his center get more involved by asking the team to run early second-half play through Hardin - one result was that sweet Hardin jump hook - another was getting him to the line where he is normally a decent foul shooter at 65%. An illustration: at about 6 minutes into the second half, Patrick Christopher lofted a pass from beyond the arc over Roeland Schaftenaar to Hardin for an easy bucket, a play that Darrall Imhoff (Cal's center on the 1959-60 national championship team) said in a post-game interview that Cal should employ more often.
In the first 9 minutes of the second half, Cal built on their 10 point half-time lead with a 16-9 roll to push the lead to 17 at 52-35, and the game seemed well in hand, particularly because at that point Cal had only one team foul while the Beavers had six. That meant the Beavers would not be able to use fouls late in the game to slow Cal's momentum, so Beaver's coach John Jay was forced to the only other available strategy - using timeouts as if he had an unlimited supply - so when the game came down to its final minutes, he had to helplessly watch Cal run out the clock.
|AP Photo/Ryan Gardner
Omari Johnson over Ryan Anderson
Jerome Randle has played more under control as the season has developed, and managed in this game to get off several sterling assists. One, a long cross-court pass from the top left to Patrick on the right baseline resulted in a three; another a behind-the-back drop pass under the bucket to a teammate driving in behind him did not result in a score - but was beautifully done; another occurred when Randle drove to the bucket under too many tall bodies, so wrapped around one of them to bounce a pass back out to a teammate in the paint for a score.
After the game Braun said, "Jerome had a great bounce-back game - the story of the game may be DeVon, but just look at what Jerome did - I told him after the game that it he plays at that level, we're just that much better as a team."
Braun was unhappy about the number of offensive rebounds surrendered to the Beavers - and the Bear's turnovers. "Our next challenge is not to (talk about) these issues, it's now about going out and getting it done. Our practice sessions this week are going to be huge, with UA and ASU coming in we're going to have to shore those areas up. We can't play give-away basketball. Our players know (turnovers are) an Achilles' (heel) for us - rebounding as well - we've got to stay in and get our guards to help us rebound a bit - it would be huge if we can correct those two areas.
- Anderson put up his 17 points without going to the charity stripe. Anderson leads the Pac-10 in free throw shooting at 85.5%. 15 of his 17 rebounds came at the defensive end of the court.
- Randle and Patrick Christopher each scored 11 points - and were Cal's two leading scorers behind Anderson.
- Cal limited their fouls; the Beavers got to the line just 10 times. The Bears took 25 fouls shots, scoring on 17 of them for 68%, somewhat below their 75% season average.
- Three Bears tied for the lead with three turnovers, Vierneisel, Randle, and Anderson. The Bears totaled 16 for the game.
- Cal commit Garrett Sim, a point guard from Portland, OR, attended the game. Because he is still just a recruit, Cal could not buy his ticket for him - he had to attend on his own account. After the game, Braun said he was happy that Sim had attended. Cal coaches told him they see him being able to play either the one or two with his ability to come off screens to shoot - as well as excelling with the ball in his hands and overall strong decision-making ability on the court - see the Bear Insider article on Sim here.
- It was a good game for assists (17), but Braun said, "Even though we had 17, I thought we could have had 20-25 - we missed about 5 more layups at least - and if those go down, we have another 20+ assist game."
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