The No. 23 Bruins came down like an avalanche, burying the Bears before the Cal men’s basketball team could figure out what the heck was happening.
Jordan Adams nailed a jumper, and Norman Powell slipped past his defender to find wide-open space from the corner for a 3-pointer. Richard Solomon forced a pass, and there was Kyle Anderson sprinting to the cup and drawing two free throws on the other end. Ricky Kreklow hit a three to stop the bleeding, and Adams cut the wound right back open with a 3-pointer of his own. Cal was called for a foul right after the shot, allowing the Bruins to keep possession.
David Kravish and Kreklow were suddenly in foul trouble and out of the game. Anderson knocked down a 15-footer, and the scoreboard read 16-6, UCLA. The Bears have been prone to slow starts, but this was more than just starting slow — this was a beatdown.
It never got closer than four, and even then, the Bruins embarked on a quick seven-point run to stretch it right back to double digits. In UCLA’s 86-66 win over Cal (17-9, 8-5 Pac-12) at Haas Pavilion on Wednesday night, its lead stretched as high as 27 points late into the second half.
“I just remember it being a close game, and all the sudden, I looked up and we’re down 12,” said Jabari Bird. “I didn’t know what happened.”
It seemed nothing would break the Bears’ way early. Justin Cobbs and Kreklow 3-pointers rattled in and out of the hoop. Nine straight points by Bird were answered each time by the Bruins. Before the second media timeout, a UCLA miss caromed off the rim and bounced toward the baseline. Adams dove backward and pegged Kravish to retain possession. On the next possession, Adams grabbed an offensive rebound and finished in the lane with an acrobatic layup.
The sophomore guard lit it up for the Bruins (21-5, 10-3), pouring in 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting.
But Adams wasn’t the only Bruin the Cal defense couldn’t stop. UCLA shot 56.9 percent from the field and scored 1.30 points per possession, more efficient than Creighton — the nation’s best offense. Anderson finished with a near triple-double, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists to go along with his 11 points.
Anderson’s most impressive assist came with UCLA up 16 with 10 minutes left in the first half. He scampered into the corner near the Cal bench to retrieve a rebound but was immediately trapped by a Bears defender. Anderson, in one motion, spun around and fired a full-court outlet pass that found Adams perfectly in stride for an easy layup.
“At this juncture, you’d be stupid to say they’re not better than us,” said head coach Mike Montgomery. “We have a little bit of difficulty figuring out how to get ourselves ready to compete. I don’t know what the answer is. They seem to be uncomfortable with the idea that this is a big deal.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that UCLA’s lead was as high as 26 points. In fact, UCLA’s lead was as high as 27 points