Jan. 31, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - A glance at the halftime stat sheet brought a knowing grin to the face of Arizona coach Lute Olson.
Even though his 19th-ranked Wildcats trailed 33-31, star point guard Jason Gardner had just two points on a couple of free throws.
"Jason is a winner," Olson said. "If he hasn't had much in the first half in the past you can count on him coming through in the second."
Gardner scored all but two of his game-high 17 points after halftime and the Wildcats broke California's 12-game home winning streak with a 68-58 victory Thursday night.
In Olson's 600th game, Arizona (14-6, 7-3 Pac-10) went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half to break a 49-49 tie.
Rick Anderson had 16 points and 13 rebounds while Luke Walton added 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Wildcats, who had lost two straight. They avoided their first three-game losing streak since 1992.
Joe Shipp had 12 points, Ryan Forehan-Kelly 11 and Brian Wethers and Amit Tamir each added 10 for the Bears (14-5, 5-4), who lost a second straight game for the first time this season.
Gardner scored 11 of his team's 13 points as the Wildcats turned a 38-33 deficit into a 46-42 lead with 13:00 remaining. The 5-foot-10 junior hit a 3-pointer, two driving layups and four free throws in the run. He also finished with six rebounds.
"I was just way too passive the first half," said Gardner, the team's leading scorer at 21.3 points per game. "Coach told me to go out there and take a few more shots. That's what I did."
Said Olson: "In crunch time, he'll always step it up."
After Cal tied it 49-49 on a jumper by Forehan-Kelly, Arizona rattled off the 12 straight points as part of a 16-3 run to essentially put it away. Tamir's 3-pointer was Cal's only field goal in a span of 8:39.
Arizona prevailed despite its second lowest offensive output of the season.
"This was a great win in a very difficult place to play as 12 other teams have found out," Olson said. "Cal missed shots it normally makes but I'd like to think our defense had something to do with it."
Cal fell behind 18-7 and made just three of its first 15 shots, before going on a 22-5 run keyed by Wethers and Tamir, both reserves, to go up 29-23.
Wethers, who is the team's second leading scorer despite starting just five games, had a spectacular dunk, a basket on a nifty spin and another on a fast break, while Tamir drilled two long jumpers and converted a putback in the run.
"We took their best punch and were right there," Olson said.
The Bears did most of their damage without Soloman Hughes and Jamal Sampson as both 6-11 players sat out early with fouls. Sampson was also fighting a flu bug.
Without much of an inside presence, the Bears struggled from the perimeter, especially the second half.
"Our game is inside," California coach Ben Braun said. "Playing without a legitimate inside threat really hurt."
The Bears took just 12 free throws (making nine), while the Wildcats were 16-of-31.
"We can't be successful going to the line eight, 10, 12 times a game," Braun said. "We also didn't take advantage of our depth."
The Wildcats handed Cal its last home loss, 78-76 on March 10, 2001, when Gardner drilled a 3-pointer in the final seconds. The Bears came in allowing just 62.7 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting.
"It wasn't so much what (Cal) was doing defensively (the first half) but what we weren't doing," Gardner said. "We got the ball moving around better in the second half and that's why we came all the way back."