Cal was awful in the first half. The Bears couldn't make a shot and USF couldn't miss. Also, the refs really let USF play physical - something Pac-12 refs do not - and Cal was clearly bothered by it. That is a problem every year. The tournament games are often more physical than teams from the Pac-12 are used to. Some teams push back, others take a step back. Cal stepped back.
From Jeff Faurado's game story ...
"I didn't imagine that happening," said coach Mike Montgomery, whose team trailed by as many as 32 points midway through the second half.
Only a 18-4 finishing rush allowed the Bears to avoid their worst NCAA tournament loss in 36 games dating back to 1946. Cal previously lost by 20 points on two occasions.
Even so, the game provided compelling evidence of the sorry state of the Pac-12 Conference, which now has only Colorado remaining in the NCAA field.
USF (21-13) led 36-13 at halftime, scoring at will and suffocating Cal (24-10) with a defense that simply left no openings.
"It was a rough game for us," said senior Jorge Gutierrez, the Pac-12 Player of the Year.
USF wasn't merely adept on defense. With 6 minutes to play in the first half, the teams had combined to shoot 100 percent from the field: USF was at 72.2 percent, and Cal had the other 27.8 percent. The score was 28-13 at the time.
"It was really our fault as players for underestimating them," senior Harper Kamp said of the Bulls, who entered the game ranked 322nd nationally in scoring. "We were a mediocre defensive team tonight."Here's John Crumpacker's story from the SF Chronicle.Colorado can save the Pac-12's poor reputation game preview. He's already earned $290,000 in incentives.
From Bruce Pascoe's game story ...
But, really, you could say the Wildcats' season pretty much ended March 4, when their NCAA tournament at-large hopes evaporated in a shocking loss at struggling ASU.
Or you could say it all ended last Saturday, when the Wildcats lost 53-51 to Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament final, giving up a shot at an automatic NCAA tournament berth to a sixth-seeded team playing its fourth game in four days.
However you figure it, by the time they showed up to host Bucknell on Wednesday, the Wildcats were already all but done.
Instead of spending the past few days looking ahead to the NIT, and a possible ride to New York if they reached the NIT semifinals, the Wildcats couldn't help but look back to Los Angeles. So they became the first No. 1 NIT team to lose in the first round since ASU did so to Jacksonville in 2010.
"I think we left a lot in L.A.," guard Kyle Fogg said. "It's tough coming back from such a loss like that. I know I'm still kind of numb. That loss still hurts."Columnist Greg Hansen says the Sean Miller officially starts now. Here's the Seen and Heard from the game. Bucknell was there ready to play.
Oregon State did roll to a win in the CBI over Western Illinois. Jared Cunningham had a solid game for the Beavers. Here's some video.