His teammates had another idea.
Each Cal player on the floor hugged Boykin as he sauntered the length of the court from where he rebounded the ball and was fouled to where he stood confidently and made a pair of free throws to secure a 69-64 upset of No. 9 Washington State.
The Bears, who had lost five of six, beat then No. 3 UCLA on a neutral site in last year's Pac-10 tournament, but they hadn't registered a road win against a top-10 team since beating No. 9 Arizona in February of 1995.
"Our backs were up against the wall and Jamal bailed us out," sophomore Patrick Christopher said. "He was all over the place on the court and the most vocal leader in the huddle. He wasn't going to let us lose again."
Boykin, getting his first start in place of ailing DeVon Hardin, got one of his seven rebounds on Derrick Low's second missed three-pointer in the final nine seconds. Either of Low's three-point attempts would have tied the game, and the second came about as close as it could without going in—hitting the rim, the backboard, and the rim again before finding Boykin's hands.
Boykin, who added 12 points and three assists, also blocked a potential go-ahead three-pointer by Daven Harmeling with 28 seconds remaining.
In the 10 minutes before the crunch-time plays, Boykin did a little of everything.
He drew back-to-back charges, forced a turnover on Aron Baynes, and dived into the stands after a loose rebound, energizing Cal during a 6-0 run.
The stretch came after Washington State turned an 8-point deficit into a 56-55 lead, but Boykin's infectious effort pushed the Bears back ahead 61-56 with 6:56 remaining.
Cal forward Ryan Anderson had a game-high 27 points.
Things appeared to be following suit with a recent Cal trend. The Bears (12-7, 3-5 Pac-10) have been within two points in the final three minutes of six of their seven losses, including each of the last four.
Two weeks ago, Cal led by as many as six in the second half, had a five-point lead in the final six minutes, and was tied with Arizona 70-70 in the final minute before losing 79-75.
Two nights earlier, the Bears led ranked Arizona State by seven in the second half, by four in the first overtime and by one in the second extra period but lost 99-90.
Last week, Cal rallied from a 10-point deficit against Stanford to take a 46-45 lead with 12:20 remaining. The Bears were still only two points down in the final three minutes, but the Cardinal pulled away for an 82-77 win.
When Anderson was forced to the bench with four fouls, Washington State (17-3, 5-3) appeared to gain a spark. The Cougars, who lead the nation in scoring defense, held Cal without a point for nearly three-and-a-half minutes and got four free throws and a Kyle Weaver layup to take a 62-61 lead with 3:54 left.
Christopher, who had 16 points, answered with a basket off an offensive rebound to give Cal a 63-62 lead with 3:30 left, and after Low, who was limited to five points on 2-of-11 shooting, made a layup for a 64-63 lead at 1:09, Anderson was re-inserted and scored four straight.
Cal needed all of that from Anderson and Boykin without Hardin, who has been a defensive stopper in the middle even when his offensive game has faltered at times.
A Cal official said the team flew to Eastern Washington on Wednesday and hoped an extra night of sleep at home would calm Hardin's 103-degree fever.
He was still ailing Thursday and didn't fly in for the game. A Cal official said there is a "50-50" chance that Hardin will join the team in Seattle for Saturday's game against Washington.
"I feel like we desperately needed this game, psychologically," Boykin said. "We've lost so many close games. We manned up and we were able to pull it off."