LOS ANGELES -- California demonstrated why it is one of the Pac-12 Conference leaders with a convincing 73-63 victory over UCLA Saturday at the Sports Arena.
It is the first time since 1992-93 that Cal (20-6, 10-3) has swept the season series from UCLA (14-11, 7-6) and it was UCLA's first home conference loss this season. Cal also swept USC, marking the first time the Golden Bears have swept both Los Angeles-area schools since 1958-59.
OVERVIEW:UCLA fell into a 17-point hole with 8:42 to play, but tried to make a game out of it and got to within seven at 66-59 with 3:15 to play. It was too much to overcome for the Bruins, who committed two crucial turnovers on their next three possessions and made only one of their last four shots.
Cal's Allen Crabbe made a back-breaking 3-pointer to give the Golden Bears a 70-59 lead with 1:19 to play. California's precision offense and timely passing was too much for UCLA to overcome as the Golden Bears shot 51.9 percent for the game. Justin Cobbs led the way with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Crabbe added 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
TURNING POINT: California made 11 of its first 15 shots of the second half, including eight of its first 10, extending a 32-26 halftime lead to 64-47 with 8:42 to play. California seemingly scored at ease during the dominant run which featured several well-executed pick and rolls for which UCLA had no defensive answer.
UCLA held California to only two field goals the rest of the game, but that early second-half dominance changed the tone of the game and the Bruins were playing catchup the rest of the way.
UCLA STAR OF THE GAME:Jerime Anderson scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting for the Bruins, who shot only 39.7 percent for the game. Anderson's 3-pointer just before halftime helped UCLA stay close at 32-26 when it looked as if Cal might take a double-digit halftime lead.
Anderson also brought the Bruins back from oblivion when he scored nine points during a 12-2 run that closed a 64-47 deficit to 66-59 with 3:13 to play. Anderson's 3-pointer ended that run.
STAT OF THE GAME: UCLA had zero assists as a team in the first half and had only seven for the game -- a season low. Anderson and fellow point guard Lazeric Jones had some moments of selfish play, but the low assists total was mostly attributed to the post players being unable to hold on to passes or finish plays in the paint.
Center Joshua Smith (3-7), forward Travis Wear (1-6) and forward David Wear (4-13) all missed several easy chips shots around the basket. They were a combined 3-of-15 from the field in the first half.
WHAT IT MEANS: UCLA is clearly a notch below California. The Golden Bears are the only conference team that has easily dispatched UCLA and they have now done it twice this season. The Bruins have been within single digits in each of their other four conference losses and could easily be in the mix for the regular-season conference title, but they trailed Cal by as many as 24 in their 85-69 loss on Dec. 31 and were down by 17 in the second half Saturday.
The Bruins are eying the Pac-12 tournament as their best shot at an NCAA tournament berth, but they are more than likely headed toward the NIT, especially if they run into the Golden Bears at Staples Center in March.