Arizona 66

(15-10, 8-6 Pac-12)

California 75

(16-6, 10-3 Pac-12)

    10:30 PM ET, February 16, 2006

    Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, California

    1 2 T
    ARIZ 31 3566
    CAL 36 3975

    Top Performers

    Arizona: M. Williams 21 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

    California: L. Powe 30 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast

    California 75, Arizona 66

    BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- California coach Ben Braun preaches to his team that every game is an equally important step during the season.

    For the most part, his players buy into that. But with first place in the Pac-10 on the line for the Golden Bears against nemesis Arizona, Leon Powe admitted this game was a little bit bigger.

    Powe dominated from the start, scoring 30 points to help Cal move into a first-place tie with UCLA with a 75-66 victory Thursday night.

    "We came here talking about how this was a big game, not an ordinary game," Powe said. "We needed this win. We were on our home floor. It's important to protect the home court. If you can do that, you have a good chance of winning a Pac-10 championship."

    The Golden Bears (16-6, 10-3) won their sixth straight game and are in position to win their first conference title since Pete Newell's final season as coach in 1959-60.

    Lute Olson, who has won 11 Pac-10 titles at Arizona, called Powe "a man among boys" and said he believed Cal was good enough to win the conference.

    "They have a very nice balance of inside and outside," Olson said. "And they have the man inside. Powe is special."

    Arizona (15-10, 8-6) fell to fifth place in the conference with the loss, putting in jeopardy the Wildcats' streak of 21 straight NCAA tournament bids -- the longest active in the nation. Cal fans chanted "N-I-T! N-I-T!" in the final minute.

    The Wildcats have finished as low as fifth in the conference only once since 1984, but they won the national championship after finishing fifth in 1996-97. They will need a strong finish to even have the opportunity to match that team's feat, starting Sunday at Stanford.

    Arizona kept its locker room closed a little longer than usual, as the players tried to regroup.

    "We just sat here and thought," said freshman Marcus Williams, who led Arizona with 21 points. "Basically a mental thing where we knew we didn't do the job and we didn't do our job defensively or offensively so we just kind of had a moment of silence."

    Powe took control from the opening possession, scoring on a spin move to the basket. He came up with a loose ball on the defensive end, taking it all the way with an around-the-back dribble for a layup and three-point play.

    The Bears scored the first nine points and never trailed, avenging last month's loss at Arizona and giving them just their second win in 16 games against the Wildcats.

    "If we can get off to a quick start, the louder that place gets," Powe said. "When it's loud, that's a tough place to play in. When I was coming here as a little kid I was up there and my chest was shaking and I wasn't even playing. To feel the atmosphere in here, it's good for us and bad for the opposing team."

    Arizona then went more than 5 minutes without a field goal early in the second half as Cal turned a three-point game into a 48-36 lead on two free throws by Powe. Powe also fed DeVon Hardin for a dunk during the stretch.

    The Wildcats cut it to six with about 6 minutes left on a 3-pointer by Hassan Adams, but Ayinde Ubaka answered with a 3 for Cal.

    Jordan Robertson added 12 points for Cal and Ubaka and Richard Midgley each had 11 as Cal shot 58 percent. Powe, coming off a career-high 32 points last week against Stanford, also had 10 rebounds.

    "Obviously they did a really good job against us last game," Midgley said. "We just tried to get it inside. We worked on a couple of backdoor plays to get us easy layups. If you rebound, you can get some easy buckets in transition. That's what we did."

    Hardin got the crowd into it on defense in the first half, blocking two shots by Adams on one possession -- a jumper from the top of the key and then a drive to the basket.

    Adams, the Wildcats' leading scorer at 18.3 points per game coming into the contest, was held to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting.

    "Usually about an hour from now we're watching Hassan Adams dunking on somebody's head," Braun said. "He's the highlight film. He's that good. You have to keep him from getting out in transition and you have to get him stopped in half court. We did that."

    Arizona's Chris Rodgers, who was kicked off the team Jan. 18 for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, scored three points in 22 minutes off the bench.

    "This is not about me, it's about the team," Rodgers said. "We're trying our best to get back into the hunt."

    Rod Benson, out since undergoing an operation on his right knee Jan. 20, returned for Cal and scored one point in limited action.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 66 75
    FG Made-Attempted 24-52 (.462) 23-40 (.575)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-12 (.333) 3-9 (.333)
    FT Made-Attempted 14-18 (.778) 26-34 (.765)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 17 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 13

    2005-06 Season

    Jan 21, 2006 @ARIZ 60, CAL 55Recap
    » Feb 16, 2006 @CAL 75, ARIZ 66Recap