Cal Men's Basketball tames UCLA in Pauley Pavilion
Bears withstood several runs on the day
In a game that felt similar to Cal Football winning at the Rose Bowl as the Pac 12 came to a close, Cal Men’s Basketball walked into Westwood and won their Pac 12 swansong against the UCLA Bruins. The Bears hadn’t beaten the Bruins since 2016, and didn’t win inside of Pauley Pavilion since 2010. In a season full of close losses, a much needed close win on the road is just what the doctor ordered, regardless if its against a paltry UCLA team.
Cal immediately raced out of the gate to a 9-0 lead just over four minutes in and Mick Cronin immediately called timeout. Jalen Cone and Jaylon Tyson came out exceptionally aggressive to start, utilizing the drive and kick game fairly well. Despite some ugly stretches in the first half that set the rockfight style tone for this game, Cal maintained a double digit lead throughout, assisted by a Cronin tirade. Rodney Brown Jr was magnificent once again coming off the bench, especially in his shot creation off the dribble.
The Bears led 32-23 at halftime, with their only blemish of the half residing in an end of half sequence where Jalen Celestine traveled and Dylan Andrews hit a buzzer beater jumper. UCLA wouldn’t go quietly coming out of the break, dwindling the lead down to 6 and 7 points several times during the second half. Nevertheless, the Bears marched on and ignited a run of their own to make it 45-31, drawing another UCLA timeout.
In the end, Cal held on and survived foul trouble. With 10 minutes remaining, Fardaws Aimaq had four fouls while Jaylon Tyson and Keonte Kennedy had three apiece and a lead that was being chipped away at. The Bruins would get as close as six points with a minute and change remaining before Jalen Cone hit a dagger corner triple to keep Cal on top for good.
Aimaq played a lot better and notched another double double with 13 points and 14 rebounds, Tyson was a bull and had 22 points on an efficient 9/12 shooting, Cone hit a clutch shot, and Brown illustrated more growth against a team that suffocates young players. Mark Madsen now has a conference win under his belt and this may signal a turning of the tide as this team learns how to win. A gritty, tough win for a team that needed it badly, as Cal beat UCLA 66-57.
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