No. 14 Arizona Busts No. 21 Cal, 99-53
March 2, 2002
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - In perhaps its biggest Pac-10 basketball game ever,California came away with the second-worst loss in the school's history.
Rick Anderson had 17 points to lead six Arizona scorers in double figures asthe 14th-ranked Wildcats routed No. 21 California 99-53 on Saturday.
The loss guaranteed Oregon the Pac-10 title, the Ducks' first outrightconference championship since they won the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1939.Later Saturday, Oregon beat UCLA 65-62 to finish two games ahead of its nearestrival.
It was California's worst loss since a 101-50 rout at Stanford two yearsago. The Bears could have earned a share of the Pac-10 title with a victory andan Oregon loss to UCLA. Cal hasn't won a conference championship in 42 years.
Cal coach Ben Braun and his players seemed as perplexed as anyone by theteam's uninspired effort.
'I just don't remember many times our team didn't step up and meet thechallenge,' Braun said. 'It's hard to explain.'
Arizona (19-9, 12-6) finished tied for second and will get the No. 2 seed innext week's Pac-10 tournament because the Wildcats won all possibletiebreakers.
The Wildcats held a players-only meeting before the game.
'We talked about either being the second seed or the sixth seed. That was alot of motivation,' playmaker Jason Gardner said. 'There were a lot of peoplesaying we were going to finish fourth or fifth in the Pac-10. We wanted toprove everything wrong.'
The Bears (21-7, 12-6), swept by Arizona this season, fell behind 14-3,trailed by 19 points at halftime, then were buried by Wildcats with a 30-4burst to start the second half.
'That's what we don't understand at this point,' Cal's Brian Wethers aid.'We knew how important of a game this was, and to come out and give thiseffort is real frustrating.'
Anderson, who missed Arizona's practice Friday because of a virus, playedjust 20 minutes and had nine rebounds. He was 3-for-5 from 3-point range as theWildcats made 14 of 32 from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Bears 48-27.After the game, Anderson begged off interviews because he needed to go receiveantibiotics.
'Ricky was still really under the weather and had been since early in theweek,' coach Lute Olson said. 'I think you saw against Stanford that he justran out of gas in the second half. We didn't have him work out at allyesterday. He just watched practice. He needs to get well for us.'
Luke Walton had 10 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Wildcats,while Salim Stoudamire had 15 points, Jason Gardner and Will Bynum each added14 and freshman Dennis Latimore a career-best 12.
Bynum, who sat out Thursday's loss to Stanford for missing a workout onSunday, was 4-for-9 from 3-point range.
Wethers scored 18 points for the Bears and Joe Shipp had 13.
The Wildcats outscored California 43-7 in a stretch of just over 13 minutes- 13-3 over the last three minutes of the first half and the run over the first10:04 of the second.
Arizona scored 21 consecutive points to go up 79-34 on Latimore'sover-his-head layup with 9:56 to play.
The most spectacular score in the first-half run came when, after aCalifornia turnover, 6-foot-10 Channing Frye made an acrobatic catch ofGardner's lob pass on a fastbreak and banked it in.
The Wildcats, who led 49-30 at halftime, were 8-of-13 on 3-pointers in thefirst half. They shot 49 percent against a California team that leads thePac-10 in defense and 3-point defense. In its 68-58 victory at Cal on Jan. 31,Arizona shot 55 percent - 65 percent in the second half.
The Bears shot 33 percent for the game, 30 percent (9-for-30) in the secondhalf. They were 3-for-17 on 3-pointers.
California, which beat Arizona State on Thursday night, has not swept theArizona schools on the road since they joined the Pac-10 in 1978-79.