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Cal flirts with historic lows after 2 blowouts

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FEBRUARY 22, 2023

The 3-24 Bears couldn’t even take back some pride from their trip to Los Angeles: USC and UCLA took turns giving their Northern neighbors a nightmare in Southern California.

The Trojans snapped a two-game losing streak by outplaying the Bears in every facet of the game. They forced Cal into commiting 14 turnovers while only turning the ball over seven times. As a team, the Bears shot a ludicrous 12 for 23 from 3-point range. No matter how many times Mark Fox decries his team’s defense in postgame press conferences, the struggles continue.

USC, on the other hand, was efficient from every part of the court, putting up nearly 100 points. Fifth-year starter Drew Peterson led the way with 30 points on 14 field goal attempts. Peterson is a nightmare to match up with — he possesses the skills of a guard while standing 6’9” and weighing about 200 pounds. Cal had no answer for his combination of skill and size.

The versatile star led the Trojans’ scoring while also snagging seven rebounds, six assists, a block and two steals. Peterson was aided by fellow veteran Boogie Ellis, a senior guard who totaled 22 points and six rebounds.

Cal’s top performer on Thursday was likely Kuany Kuany, the rangy senior forward from Australia. Kuany scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting, making both threes he attempted. While a solid performance, this simply cannot be a team’s strongest effort in a game it expects to win.

If there was a time for a magical resurgence of energy for these Bears, it has already passed.

Getting blown out by USC was not enough of a spark to ignite a better effort against No. 4 UCLA. The game was out of hand by the end of the first half, where the Bruins scored 38 points while holding their Northern cousins to 15. 15 points in a half. Cal’s offense could not do anything.

The stats are horrific: 14 Cal turnovers compared to four assists. By contrast, the Bruins dished out 14 assists and committed 10 turnovers. The Bears grabbed 29 rebounds compared to UCLA’s 41. Cal scored 16 points in the paint and gave up 44. The Bears shot 8-39 from 2-point range. In fact, both USC and UCLA shot a better percentage from the three than Cal managed from 2-point range.

If that was not enough, true shooting percentage is a stat that incorporates field goal attempts, free throw attempts and points to create a general summary of scoring efficiency. Across their two contests in Los Angeles, the Bears scored at a clip of 40.4% while allowing a true shooting percentage of 66.9.

A gap that big is stunning — and perhaps more telling than the final scores.

The season is not over — technically. But there are no more consolation prizes for the Bears, who have few games left. There probably won’t be any moral victories along the way. There is only one benchmark left to clear.

In the 1978-79 season, Cal basketball finished with a record of 6-21. The team’s final win percentage was 22.2%. Today, the season win percentage is 11.1%.

There are four games left until the Pac-12 tournament. The Bears have that time to avoid going down as the worst team in program history. Their quest begins in Haas Pavilion this Thursday.

Contact Casey Grae at 


FEBRUARY 22, 2023