Cal beats USC 87-65 to finish season unbeaten at home
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) If Jaylen Brown is headed to the NBA after just one season at California as many people suspect, fans at Haas Pavilion on Sunday will have plenty to remember from what might have been the talented freshman's final home game.
A potential first-round pick, Brown showed why he's one of the top prospects in the country with yet another flurry of big-time plays against USC to cap off the Golden Bears' first unbeaten season at home in 56 years.
None was more impressive than when Brown drove the length of the court past three defenders in just 3.8 seconds for a buzzer-beating layup before halftime, giving Cal all the momentum it needed to beat USC 87-65 on Sunday.
''That was an amazing play,'' said Tyrone Wallace, who threw the ball in to Brown then watched from midcourt as his teammate soared in for the easy layup. ''He's a track star, I guess. He got it and went coast-to-coast and was able to finish in time at the rim. That was a great play.''
Brown finished with 18 points, Ivan Rabb also scored 18 with 10 rebounds and Wallace had 12 points and six assists in his final home game for the Bears (21-8, 11-5 Pac-12). Jordan Mathews had 17 points and Jabari Bird added 12.
The win keeps Cal in the hunt for the conference championship.
In order to stay in the hunt, Cal must find a way to win on the road after going 18-0 at Haas Pavilion this season. Overall, the Bears have won 19 straight home games dating to last season - the second-longest streak in school history but play their final two conference games on the road beginning Thursday at No. 9 Arizona.
''Senior night for me is always shaky the first 5-10 minutes just because of the emotion,'' Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''I thought we settled down and started playing some good basketball.''
Nikola Jovanovic had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Trojans (19-10, 8-8).
Cal led by as much as 29 and was never challenged after pulling away midway through the first half.
''You can't get down in double digits and expect to win a game at Cal,'' USC coach Andy Enfield said. ''Our defense was solid but they scored their share when our shots just weren't falling.''
Mathews made three consecutive 3-pointers to put Cal up by 24. Wallace later scored on a one-handed dunk from the baseline to make it 77-51.
USC couldn't keep up and lost for the fifth time in six games.
Brown and Bird combined for 25 points in the first half but it was Cal's defense that made the difference after two consecutive baskets by Jovanovic tied the game at 26.
The Bears went on a 14-0 run over the next 6:46 minutes, capped by a Kameron Rooks layup that made it 40-26.
Brown, who needs 20 points to break Cal's freshman scoring record, had five points during the run then brought the sold-out crowd of 11,858 to its feet with his sparkling play just before halftime.
''We still have a lot of room to grow, a lot of room to develop but we've come a long way,'' Brown said. ''I cannot wait until Thursday.''
Southern California: The Trojans remain one victory shy of their first 20-win season since 2009. ... Jovanovic had more points in the first half than he had overall in his previous two games combined. ... Darion Clark missed his seventh straight game with a separated shoulder. . The Trojans are 2-5 without Clark .
California: The Bears finished 7-0 in February, the first Cal team to go undefeated in the month since 1959-60. ... Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr attended the game and took part in the pregame ceremonies honoring Cal's three seniors, including his son Nick.
ONE MORE YEAR
Rabb, like Brown, is a freshman who could also be headed to the NBA and both were serenaded with chants of ''One more year, one more year,'' when they checked out of the game late in the second half.
''We plan to go deep in the (NCAA) tournament and right now I'm just focused on this team and trying to win,'' Rabb said. ''I can't really control what the future holds. I just have to continue to do what I'm doing on the court.''
USC: Hosts Oregon State on Wednesday.
California: Visits No. 9 Arizona on Thursday.