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Bears Overwhelmed by Arizona, 71-50

January 30, 2021

Things started badly for Cal’s men’s basketball team against Arizona in Tucson on Saturday afternoon.

Then they got worse.

Outplayed and overmatched in every facet of the game, the Bears (7-11, 2-10 Pac-12)  fell with a thud, 71-50. And as lopsided as the score looks the game wasn’t really that close. The Wildcats led by as many as 29 at with 6:54 left and cruised home. The loss was the Bears’ fourth in a row and fifth in six games, but unlike the other defeats in which Cal was competitive, it was never in this one. 

Both teams started off cold. It took five and half minutes for Cal to score and Arizona (13-4, 7-4) had only 6 points at that time. But then the Wildcats took off and soon it was 13-4.

The Bears began the game throwing the ball away more often than they aimed at the hoop. At one point in the first half they had six turnovers and five shots. In fact, it wasn’t until Ryan Betley hit a lay-up with 8:03 left that the Bears had more points (9) than turnovers (7). 

And so it went. Arizona’s athletic big men dominated inside and James Akinjo and Bennedict Mathurin hit from outside. The Bears meanwhile looked dysfunctional on offense against the long and mobile Wildcats. The Cal defense was little better as the Bears couldn’t keep up with Coach Sean Miller’s creative offense.

“I am disappointed in how we played today,” coach Mark Fox said after the game. “Arizona was the aggressor from the jump ball, they dominated the paint. It felt like we were playing uphill all day which we really were.”

Cal’s last faint hope came when Joel Brown hit a layup at the halftime buzzer. Arizona still led 37-22, but the Bears had some energy. That iddn’t last long, Cal was sluggish and the Cats and outscored the Bears 18-8 coming out of the break. After that the question was not who would win, it was by how many.

The box score numbers are ugly pretty much everywhere you look. Cal shot just 38.3 percent (18-for-47) while Arizona hit 51.9 (27-for-52). The Cats outrebounded the Bears, 33-23, and had 15 second-chance points.

The most telling stat might be Cal’s woeful total of eight assists as opposed to 16 turnovers. You can’t win with a ratio like that.

The lone glimmer for Cal was the play of guard Matt Bradley who now seems fully recovered from his ankle injury. The junior had 21 of Cal’s 50 points and he shot 70 percent from the floor (7-for-10) including 5-for-6 from 3-point range. The only downside to his game was his six turnovers.

‘Matt finished plays today,” Fox said, “I thought he turned the ball over more than either he or I wanted him to do it. He had four turnovers at the half and ended up with six. When he takes the right shots he certainly finished plays today. We have to get more help around Matt. Their frontline dominated the game today. Obviously, they are bigger at both the four and the five and they’re deeper up front. Their front line guys won the battle of the paint.”

Six-eleven Azuolas Tubells, with 12 points and six rebounds and 7-0 Christian Koloko, 9 points, 6 rebounds, had their way with the smaller Bears. And not only are the Wildcats tall, they have long arms, which bothered the Bears virtually every time they tried to pass. Even inbounding the ball was an adventure.

“I would say their size was a huge factor in the game,” Fox said. “Quite frankly they are three inches bigger than one guy, four inches bigger than another in the starting lineup. That was really an advantage for their team today.”

How can you deal with that? 

“You try to defend them before they get it, keep them off their spots. Arizona has a good team, I don’t want to take anything away from their effort, but we’re not pleased with how we played today.”

And while the Wildcats had five players score in double figures, led by Akinjo with 20, besides Bradley only Joel Brown cracked double digits and he had ten.

Usually, the Cal reserves make significant contributions, but the Bears got only 6 bench points. Betley and Mikale Foreman, two grad transfers who were brought aboard primarily to shoot treys, continued their recent struggles from long-range, Betley was 1-for-6 while Foreman missed all three of his attempts.

Andre Kelly, who was literally in over his head under the glass, scored just four points, fouled out and drew a technical on his fifth foul.

The Bears next hit the court Thursday night at home when Stanford comes to town.

Other stories:

Cal Hoops Falls Short At Arizona State

Cal Hoops: Bears (Almost) Back to Full Strength

Discussion from...

Bears Overwhelmed by Arizona, 71-50

868 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 24 days ago by BearoutEast67
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yeah, but we have this...

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The offense seemed to stagnate with little movement when Bradley was in. Sort of - just pass the ball to Bradley and let him dribble and do something. Too many times, a quick jumper or 3 was attempted with no passing. Granted Arizona's height was hard to overcome, but more movement on offense whether Bradley is in or not is a basic need.
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