LOS ANGELES -- The Cal basketball team understands its long-shot status for the NCAA tournament. The Golden Bears know that even a victory over USC in the Pac-10 tournament Thursday and another in the Friday semifinals might not get them a bid.
"But if we win that final," junior Harper Kamp said, "then there's nothing to talk about."
The fifth-seeded Bears (17-13) and No. 4 Trojans (18-13) meet at 12:10 p.m. at Staples Center in what promises to be a dynamite quarterfinal. Cal arrives having won four in a row, USC five of six. The teams split their two regular-season games.
"We're going to have to play our best to have a chance to win," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said.
Both teams could say the same thing, but several factors could benefit the Bears:
"He just stretches the defense so much more and makes it easier for those two big guys, who I think are very, very good," O'Neill said, alluding to Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison. "With (Crabbe), they're
Still, the Trojans exploited the Bears' zone defense in both meetings, shooting a combined 19 for 39 from 3-point range.
Coach Mike Montgomery has used more man-to-man defense in recent games but was reluctant to do so against USC's matching 6-foot-10 posts Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson.
The zone limited Vucevic, the All-Pac-10 junior, to six points in Cal's win in L.A., but Vucevic lit them up for 21 points and 10 rebounds in the rematch.
Oregon State 69, Stanford 67
Oregon 76, Arizona State 69
Cal vs. USC, 12:10 p.m.
Arizona vs. Oregon State, 2:40 p.m.
UCLA vs. Oregon, 6:10 p.m.
Washington vs. Washington State, 8:40 p.m.
USC-Cal winner vs. Arizona-Oregon State winner, 6:10 p.m.
UCLA-Oregon winner vs. Washington-Washington State winner, 8:40 p.m.
Saturday, March 12
Semifinal winners, 3:10 p.m.