The No. 11 Oregon Ducks fell behind early against the California Golden Bears on Thursday night and never recovered, losing 83-63 at Berkeley's Haas Pavilion.
Cal celebrated the win via its Twitter account:
BEARS WIN! This is OUR HAAS. pic.twitter.com/UK0KZV8JV0— Cal Men's Basketball (@CalMensBBall) February 12, 2016
Playing away from home has become a dangerous game for ranked teams, as the Ducks became the 10th Associated Press Top 25 squad to lose on the road this week.
Jabari Bird was a big reason why Oregon joined the list and ended its six-game winning streak Thursday, tying a career high with 24 points. He dropped 16 points in the first half—doubling his season average—and finished 5-of-8 from behind the three-point arc.
Cal's Twitter feed showed off the form Bird displayed while hitting his first three attempts from downtown:
JABARI BIRD HAS THREE 3-POINTERS. 5 MINUTES INTO THIS GAME. https://t.co/qFAUHJDpLT— Cal Men's Basketball (@CalMensBBall) February 12, 2016
Early on, it looked as though freshman Jaylen Brown was going to be the star of the game as he scored Cal's first five points on a three-pointer and this nasty left-handed dunk, per the Pac-12 Networks:
Junior guard Sam Singer had himself a game as well, chipping in with six points and a career-high 10 assists. Cal shared a replay of his jumper toward the end of the first half:
The team effort from Cal (16-8) left Oregon frustrated all night, as the 20-5 Ducks never held a lead. CBS Sports' Jerry Palm gave some insight on what he felt was Oregon's main issue early in the game:
Oregon's O to this point has largely been "pass around the perimeter until someone shoots" The paint at that end is strictly decorative— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) February 12, 2016
Oregon didn't have much to celebrate in the first half, except this one-handed throwdown by Chris Boucher, courtesy of the Ducks' Twitter account:
That didn't help carry any momentum after halftime as the second half was more of the same. Cal increased its lead to 25 at one point and continued piling up the highlights, such as this alley-oop from Ty Wallace to Ivan Rabb, per Cal:
Wallace to Rabb! https://t.co/dd7v7WAw2q— Cal Men's Basketball (@CalMensBBall) February 12, 2016
It was Wallace's first game back after he missed the past five contests with a hand injury. It took him five shots, but he was finally on the board early in the second half and finished with 10 points:
Welcome back, Ty. 😊 https://t.co/atlAtqSDQ5— Cal Men's Basketball (@CalMensBBall) February 12, 2016
ESPN's Jeff Goodman thinks the senior will make Cal tough to beat:
Cal gets Ty Wallace back tonight and the Bears are up 27-9 early on Oregon. It's early, but THIS Cal team looks dangerous.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 12, 2016
A quick look at the box score showed why Cal won the game. The Bears dominated the Ducks in nearly every category, including shooting percentage (55.7-42.6), rebounds (39-26) and assists (19-13).
However, on a night when there wasn't much to celebrate, Oregon's Dillon Brooks finished with 17 points and three rebounds.
Brown finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Rabb contributed 13 points and seven rebounds. However, it was the Bird and Singer Show for most of the night, and ESPN announcer Bill Walton loved what he was seeing, per Cal:
That's FIVE 3-pointers for the Bird so far tonight! https://t.co/riLKi1KtZC— Cal Men's Basketball (@CalMensBBall) February 12, 2016
This was a big win for the Bears—a bubble team that has struggled at times but now has three wins over teams ranked at the time they played with earlier victories against the Arizona Wildcats and Utah Utes.
With the return of Wallace and the emergence of Singer, the Bears will try to make a run at finishing in the top three of the Pac-12. With just two ranked teams remaining on the schedule in its final seven games, Cal will hope to do enough to reach the NCAA tournament.
The Ducks are safely in the tournament even after the loss but failed to put some distance between themselves and the USC Trojans, who trail Oregon by one game in the conference standings.
Even though the road has been tough, Oregon will hope to bounce back with a win at Stanford on Saturday and then return home for three straight games.
Palm indicated after the game he felt the score didn’t do Cal's performance justice:
Cal beat Oregon 83-63 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) February 12, 2016
It was an all-around impressive effort considering the Ducks realistically never had a chance after trailing 12-2 early in the first half, especially when you consider the fact Oregon was ranked No. 1 in the RPI, per Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area News Group:
Oregon was No. 1 in the RPI this morning, Cal was No. 34. How big is the overnight change? Bears should climb inside top-30.— Jeff Faraudo (@JeffFaraudo) February 12, 2016
Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin was proud of his team's effort, per Cal Men's Basketball:
This is how we need to win- we have 2 play as a unit. If we defend at high level we'll give ourselves the chance 2 win games. -@CuonzoMartin— Cal Men's Basketball (@CalMensBBall) February 12, 2016
Oregon didn't give much effort and needs to put this game in the rearview mirror and realize it's not indicative of its overall body of work. The Ducks are still in first place and have a great shot at winning their first regular-season conference title since the 2001-02 season.