Feb. 25, 2010
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ Jerome Randle made sure California had no problems completing the first task of its biggest weekend in years.
Randle scored 24 points and took over the game in the second half to help the Golden Bears move a step closer to clinching their first conference title in 50 years with a 95-71 victory over Arizona on Thursday night.
"It's a great feeling," Randle said. "I feel it. I'm pretty sure everybody else feels what we can do within the next couple of days. We just have to go out and put it all out there and play hard."
Jamal Boykin added 20 points and 10 rebounds, Theo Robertson scored 18, and Patrick Christopher had 14 for the Golden Bears (19-9, 11-5 Pac-10), who jumped out to a 24-point lead after less than 14 minutes and rolled to their fifth win in their last six games.
Cal can clinch at least a share of its first Pac-10 title since 1960 by beating Arizona State on Saturday in its final home game of the regular season.
"I think we'll be fired up," Robertson said. "It's a big game. We're playing for something. Everything that we worked for on the season is on the line. I know guys will be ready to play."
Derrick Williams scored 17 points and Brendon Lavender added 14 for the Wildcats (13-14, 7-8), who have lost four of their last five games.
"We lost to a much better team, a more experienced team and a very disciplined team that's trying to win a conference championship here this weekend and you could really tell," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "They came out and seized the moment and took advantage of us early."
Despite the high stakes for the game, there were empty seats in the upper sections at Haas Pavilion. Cal has yet to sell out a game this season despite being in position to accomplish something for the first time in a half-century.
Fans who did show up had plenty to cheer about and only a few tense moments. Arizona cut the 24-point deficit down to eight early in the second half before Randle carried his team to victory.
The diminutive point guard who is closing in on the Cal scoring record says his legacy won't be complete without the Pac-10 championship that has eluded the Bears for so long.
Randle hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in a 16-3 run that gave the Bears a 61-40 lead. He was feeling so confident that he pulled up for a 27-footer that swished through the net at one point. He later flipped in a layup over his head for a three-point play.
Randle now has 1,726 points, 50 shy of tying Sean Lampley's record of 1,776. Randle also broke a tie for third with Jason Kidd for career assists and reached the 500-mark for his career when he set up a jumper by Robertson midway through the second half.
Randle also contributed on the defensive side, as he helped hold Nic Wise to one first-half point after Wise scored 30 in Arizona's win at home last month over Cal. Wise finished with seven points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Cal took control of this game early and never trailed. Robertson scored eight consecutive points midway through the half to give the Bears a 21-9 lead. Christopher's 3-pointer capped a 12-3 run that extended Cal's lead to 41-17 with 6:15 remaining in the half.
"We've got something to play for," coach Mike Montgomery said. "I thought the kids did a really good job of knowing this was important. We executed very well. ... The ball was moving. Obviously we have guys who can shoot the ball, so when the ball is moving that's good."
But the Bears only made one more basket the rest of the half, getting outscored 14-2 to have their lead cut to 43-31 at the break. Lavender's 3-pointer with 24 seconds left got the deficit down to 12 for Arizona.
Cal wore silver uniforms to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Jordan brand at Nike. The Bears are one of three teams to wear the special uniforms, joining North Carolina and Georgetown.
Arizona was without starting swingman Kevin Parrom, who did not make the trip to the Bay Area because of a sprained left foot. Solomon Hill started in his place, moving into the lineup for the first time since Jan. 14 at Oregon State.