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No. 14 Cal men's basketball upset by San Diego State, 72-58

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Sports Editor

NOVEMBER 26, 2015

Though it had dominated its first four opponents by an average of 21 points, the No. 14 Cal men’s basketball team (4-1) knew that San Diego State would be a Thanksgiving challenge.

The Aztecs were coming off a 27-9 season and projected by most to take home the Mountain West conference title once again. San Diego State, which has earned six consecutive bids to the Big Dance, would provide the Bears with their most formidable test of the season and ultimately upset Cal, 72-58, in the Las Vegas Invitational.

After an early basket from forward Ivan Rabb opened up the scoring, Cal didn’t take the lead again until 14:26 in the first half, when a triple from guard Tyrone Wallace made the score 13-11. The teams would exchange baskets throughout the period, as the Aztecs prevented Cal from ever getting comfortable.

The Bears built an eight-point lead — their largest of the first half — on a layup from Wallace, as a cold shooting spell from SDSU saw the Aztecs making two of their last 13 field goals before the basket from Wallace made the score 34-26.

The theme of the first half was the poor shooting that plagued both teams from the get-go. The Aztecs entered halftime having made one of their final 18 attempts from the field and shooting only 20 percent from beyond the arc while recording six turnovers to two assists.

The Bears did not fare much better, sinking only two of their last nine field-goal attempts and tallying four turnovers in the last 4:08. Cal was unable to find its rhythm initially against SDSU’s full-court press and to get it inside against the Aztecs’ wing defenders. The lone bright spots for the Bears were Wallace, who finished the half with 11 points, and Rabb, who put on another clinic to the tune of 14 points while going five of seven from the field to help the Bears take a 36-28 lead into the half. The rest of the team was a combined three of 12 on field goals and notched nine fouls.

But the Aztecs’ ice-cold shooting wouldn’t last much longer. A free throw from guard Stephen Domingo gave the Bears a 13-point lead, but SDSU quickly answered with a 14-0 run, highlighted by a breakaway dunk and a 3-pointer from forward Winston Shepard to make the score 45-44, Cal.

The Bears, however, failed to respond, as SDSU took a 50-48 lead on a layup from Shepard — its first lead since 14:27 in the first half. Cal continued to flounder against SDSU’s size, struggling to find success with interior passing. The Bears were also hindered by early foul trouble for freshmen stars Rabb and forward Jaylen Brown, who were both nailed with their fourth fouls with more than six minutes to play in the game.

The Aztecs eventually out-scored Cal, 42-13, en route to their impressive win, aided by the Bears’ 15 turnovers. Cal’s bench also totaled only seven points compared with San Diego State’s 34, a problem that has hounded the Bears all season.

Michelle Lee covers men’s basketball. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @michelle_e_lee.

NOVEMBER 26, 2015

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