Cal Basketball: Bears Survive Messy Second Half to Beat Prairie View

Jeff Faraudo

Cal improved to 4-0 but coach Mark Fox won't like much about this one.

The Bears squandered all of a nine-point halftime lead to a team that was 0-18 all-time vs. the Pac-12. Cal had 22 turnovers, shot just 30 percent in the second half and made only 1 of 9 threes after converting 5 of 6 in the first half.

Matt Bradley led the Bears with 16 points and Grant Anticevich had 12.

Next up: The Bears travel to NYC to play No. 1 Duke on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

PRE-GAME: Cal (3-0) takes on Prairie View A&M (1-2) of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in its final game before traveling to New York City to face Duke on Thursday in the semifinals of the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Duke, by the way, ascended to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 earlier today. The Blue Devils (4-0) opened the season with a 68-66 win over Kansas at MSG. Duke does not play again before facing Cal.

The Bears hope to play a stronger first half today than they have in their first three games, when they twice trailed and were tied 40-40 against Cal Baptist in their most recent game.

Prairie View is 0-18 all-time against the Pac-12 and Cal is 15-0 all-time against the SWAC. That at least suggests a victory by the Golden Bears.

But the Panthers were regular-season and SWAC tournament champs a year ago, earning their second-ever NCAA tournament bid. Coach Byron Smith guided PVAMU to its first 20-win season a year ago, but four key players graduated and the Panthers are currently without top returning scorer Devonte Patterson, who is suspended for the season's first eight games.

Check back for updates on tonight's game.

CAL LINEUP: Same as it's been every game so far -- C Lars Thiemann, F Grant Anticevich, G Kareem South, G Joel Brown, G Matt Bradley.

15:38 1st H: Grant Anticevich hit his first two shots -- including his sixth straight 3-pointer over two games -- and Cal jumped out to a 7-2 lead. The Panthers answered to lead 8-7, but a 3-pointer by Matt Bradley has pushed the Bears back in front. Cal 10, Prairie View 8.

11:44 1st H: Freshman Kuany Kuany, who did not play in Cal's first three games due to injury, came on at 14:24 and scored on a drive to the hoop with 13:05 left. Mark Fox trying a lot of different combinations right now, there are going to be some growing pains. For instance: 6 Cal turnovers already. Cal 16, Prairie View 16.

7:56 1st H: One number explains almost everything so far -- 10 Cal turnovers. Yikes! The Bears are shooting 61.5 percent and they are behind. Prairie View 24, Cal 23.

5:10 1st H: A soccer game broke out - officials whistled a Prairie View player for flopping after a 3-point try and Cal shot a technical free throw. Cal 26, PVAMU 24.

3:49 1st H: Bears still not playing efficiently on offense but have turned up the heat on defense and are in the midst of a 9-0 run. Cal 32, Prairie View A&M 24.

HALFTIME: Cal 35, Prairie View A&M 26. Well, that was weird. The Bears held the Panthers scoreless for the final 8:56 of the half, using a 12-0 run to take charge. The visitors shot 0-for-11 from the field, 0-for-3 from the FT line and turned the ball over 6 times during that span. Then . . . ugh. Cal was inbounding the ball with 2.1 seconds left when Anticevich had it stolen by Darius Williams, who converted a layup just before the buzzer. It was Cal's 14th turnover (16 by my count). 

Cal has a nine-point lead despite having three more turnovers than baskets. The Bears have a 22-15 rebounding edge and the Panthers are shooting 36%. Cal is at 46% and has made 5 of 6 from the 3-point arc. The Bears entered the game shooting 47% from the arc (third-best in the nation) and now are at 51% from deep through 3 1/2 games). Cal 35, Prairie View A&M 26.

12:33 2nd H: Well, things have gotten particularly ugly since we last checked in. Cal is shooting 1 for 8 with four turnovers this half and the Panthers are thinking, `Why not? Mark Fox looks like a guy who just ate a bad burrito.This is just the way you want to warm up for Duke. Cal 37, Prairie View A&M 34.

8:00 2nd H: It's getting worse. PVAMU on a 10-0 run as Cal is shooting 2 for 13 with 6 turnovers this half. Prairie View A&M 44, Cal 39.

 3:10 2nd H: Cal on a 10-2 run to regain the lead. Matt Bradley had six of those points, including 4 FTs. He has 15 points to lead all scorers. Cal 49, Prairie View 46.

0:42.1 2nd H: Cal has to force up a tough attempt as the shot clock runs down and the Panthers get the rebound and call timeout. Cal 52. Prairie View A&M 50. 

FINAL SCORE: Cal 54, Prairie View A&M 50. Bradley and Anticevich each made just 1 of 2 FTs in the final 21 seconds but the Panthers had a turnover and a missed 3-pointer on their final two possessions. The Bears survive.

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