NCAA

Bears come up short at San Diego State 64-63

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Bears come up short at San Diego State 64-63

BOX SCORE
SAN DIEGO (APCSN) -- Playing for the first time since leading rebounder Richard Solomon was suspended, No. 24 California was outrebounded and outhustled in losing to San Diego State for the second straight season.Chase Tapley scored 25 points, including two free throws with 8.6 seconds left, and San Diego State won 64-63 on Sunday.Solomon, who was suspended indefinitely on Friday because of conduct contrary to athletic department values, is averaging 6.0 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds."It's not the reason we lost," Justin Cobbs said. "Richard's an important part of our team but still, we should have done what we needed to win."Tapley came up huge with his offense and defense down the stretch for the Aztecs (8-2), whose last six wins have been by four points or fewer.Tapley had a rebound with 20 seconds left and fed Jamaal Franklin, who was fouled and made both shots for a 62-58 lead. Cobbs made a layup with 9.2 seconds left before Tapley was fouled and hit both free throws to give the Aztecs a four-point lead. Allen Crabbe of the Bears (6-2) made a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds for the final margin."Everybody got caught standing around," Crabbe said of the rebound that ended up in Tapley's hands. "It's really nobody's fault. We needed somebody to be aggressive and go get the rebound."SDSU outrebounded Cal 37-35 and outshot the Golden Bears 43.4 percent to 40 percent."We didn't rebound the ball well and we didn't shoot the ball well," Cobbs said. "We're a better shooting team than that. Sometimes the ball doesn't go in and you have to do a better job on the defensive end."The Aztecs made 9 of 10 free throws over the final 2:21. Tapley had 10 of SDSU's final 21 points.San Diego State beat California 77-57 last season in Berkeley. This was San Diego State's second win against a ranked Pac-12 team this season and its third overall against the more glamorous conference. The Aztecs beat then-No. 23 Arizona 61-57 at Tucson on Nov. 23. They also beat USC 56-54 at home on Nov. 17."This was terrific. But we expected to win. We thought we would win. We thought we were the better team, and I think that's significant, also," said coach Steve Fisher, whose Aztecs were ranked in The Associated Press' Top 25 all last season but have yet to crack this season's poll. The Aztecs were coming off an 85-83 home loss to Creighton on Wednesday night in which they blew an 18-point first-half lead."It's a crazy game that we play," Fisher said. "I remember the feeling I had after Creighton, and we played every bit as hard as we did today. But today we found a way to make one extra play, one more play, and be euphoric as we raced to the locker room. This was a really great win for us. To a man, everybody who played made plays that won for us."Crabbe scored 23 points and Cobbs had 17 for the Golden Bears.Cal led only once in the second half, 51-50, after Crabbe's layup with 6:31 left.On Cal's next possession, Tapley intercepted Cobb's alley-oop pass on a 3-on-1 break, then went down the court and made a layup for a 52-51 lead with 5:50 to go.The Aztecs stayed in front the rest of the way."Was that ever sensational?" Fisher said. "Chase has done a phenomenal job of anticipation, alertness, experience, setting people up. It's almost like he baited that play to be made. He got down low, knowing that he was going to tease him to try to throw the lob. Made a phenomenal play."Tapley said the Aztecs needed something to happen then."My first instinct was try to get a foul without getting an intentional foul," Tapley said. "I said, Hey, you know what, why don't you just get a steal.' So I backed up, saw he was about to throw it, looked into his eyes, and as soon as it left his hands I jumped and tipped the ball and I went down and tried to score."Cobbs missed shots on consecutive possessions, including a coast-to-coast attempt when he fell to the court and remained there while Franklin got the rebound. Tapley finished that possession with a 17-foot jumper for a 55-51 lead with 4:20 left. Cobbs was hurt on the play and had to be helped to the bench.Crabbe then hit a 3-pointer for Cal.The Aztecs went on an 8-0 run to close the first half and take a 33-25 lead. James Rahon had consecutive jumpers before Tapley had a steal and a layup. Franklin made two free throws to finish he run.Cal erased most of that deficit in the first two minutes of the second half when Gutierrez made a bank shot and Cobbs hit a 3-pointer.After Cal tied it at 40 on David Kravish's jumper, Xavier Thames hit a 3-pointer for SDSU.The Bears return home to take on San Jose State (127), Jackson State (1211), Weber State (1216) and Santa Barbara (1219) before they travel to Las Vegas to take on a difficult UNLV squad on Dec. 23.

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

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AP

Pac-12 to experiment with ways to shorten football games

LOS ANGELES -- The Pac-12 will shorten halftime and reduce the number of commercial breaks during its non-conference schedule this season as part of a trial program to reduce the length of its football games.

Halftime will be 15 minutes long, cut down from the usual 20-minute break. The number of commercial breaks will be reduced and they will be shorter in length, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday.

Scott announced the initiative as the Pac-12 kicked off its media days in Hollywood. The experiment is intended to shorten ballooning game times in an era of up-tempo offenses running more plays and the increased scoring that comes with it.

"Just because metrics show robust ratings and attendance doesn't mean we shouldn't be experimenting and piloting with formats that will keep the sport attractive," Scott said. "It's incumbent on us to look at the presentation of the sport and make sure the pace of play is moving as much as possible and without changing the fundamentals of the game."

Scott did not completely dismiss potential rule changes in the future to address the length of games, saying that the upcoming experiment was part of a larger, more comprehensive review.

Scott noted that Pac-12 games have averaged nearly 3 hours and 30 minutes, more than 30 minutes longer than NFL games. Some of that discrepancy can be attributed to stopping the clock after first downs in college football, a rule not used in the NFL.

The halftime reduction could be a significant incentive to keep television viewers tuned in. Scott said up to 30 percent of the audience is lost during that break.

The changes could also have a positive effect on stadium attendance since Pac-12 fans have complained about the increase in late starts under the conference's most recent television deal. Fans might be more likely to watch a game in-person on a Thursday or Saturday night if they have a chance to get home before midnight.

For Arizona and Arizona State, which hold their early-season home games after dark to avoid the desert heat, it could mean their fans spend less time in triple-digit temperatures.

Pac-12 coaches consulted about the change did not believe it would hinder their ability to make adjustments at halftime, Scott said.

"I was delighted to hear our coaches feel like 20 minutes is more than they need from a student-athlete health and rest and X's and O's perspective," Scott said.

Scott also announced the league's plans to operate a centralized replay center, joining other conferences in consolidating its video review facilities.

The Pac-12 title game will stay at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, through 2019, Scott said. The league also has the option to hold the 2020 game in Santa Clara.

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

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AP

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

Even the most passionate Cal fan might struggle to name a single player on the current basketball roster. The team's top five leading scorers from last season have all departed. Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird moved on to the NBA, Grant Mullins graduated, and both Charlie Moore and Kameron Rooks elected to transfer.

But perhaps the most significant change is on the sideline. Out is Cuonzo Martin, who agreed to a massive seven-year contract with Missouri, worth a reported $21 million. Replacing him is 44-year-old Wyking Jones, a longtime assistant coach, who spent the past two seasons as Martin's top aide in Berkeley.

Jones' promotion was met with heavy criticism from many in the media, both locally and nationally. Skeptics believe Cal settled for the cheap option, rather than the best option. But why can't both be true? There's no denying that salary played a factor in the hire - the athletic department's financial troubles have been well documented in recent years. But Jones impressed Athletic Director Mike Williams in other areas too, reportedly acing his job interview with a detailed plan for the program moving forward. And unlike the other candidates, Jones already has direct experience dealing with Cal's unique set of circumstances.

“It's not something that you can walk into and just get a really good grasp of,” Jones explained. “It's a learning curve that, if you walk into this situation for the first time, it would take you a tremendous amount of time. Knowing who to go to when you need things, who's in charge of this, who's in charge of that, just having a familiarity of how to really get things done around here.”

Jones also discovered the challenges of recruiting at a school like Cal, where not every athlete can qualify academically. While many coaches would view that as a negative, Jones chooses to embrace it.

“In my mind, that's what makes this place special,” he said. “It's the number one public institution in the world for a reason. Your recruiting pool shrinks quite a bit, but that's okay because typically what happens is if you get a kid who has a lot of discipline on and off the court, you're not going to run into troubles on the weekends when they're in the dorms. They're usually kids who have a lot of respect for the community and other students.”

From a coaching standpoint, Jones has unquestionably paid his dues in the world of college basketball. Prior to joining Cal as an assistant in 2015, he made stops at Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount, where he also played from 1991-95. Now, after nearly 15 years in collegiate coaching, Wyking Jones is a head coach.

“I think initially it's very exciting to have an opportunity to coach, have your own program at a storied program like Cal, to follow in the footsteps of some great coaches,” he said, smiling. “But now the smoke has cleared and it's time to get to work.”

That work has already begun. As previously mentioned, Jones will have to replace his top five scorers from a year ago, who accounted for nearly 56 points per game. The Bears will count on increased production from senior center Kingsley Okoroh and junior guard Don Coleman. They will also rely heavily on redshirt senior forward Marcus Lee, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky.

“It's an adjustment, for sure,” Jones admitted. “But you have 13 scholarships for a reason. It's just an opportunity for the guys who are still here to earn their scholarship. It's an opportunity for them to make a name for themselves and have an impact on this program.”

Under Cuonzo Martin, Cal established itself as one of the best defensive teams in the country. Last season, the Bears ranked 18th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 63.4 points per game. Jones hopes to continue that trend while also implementing a full-court pressure defense, similar to the one he coached at Louisville, which resulted in a national championship in 2013.

“It's a process,” he acknowledged. “In year one, hopefully we can be good at it. In year two, look to improve. In year three, hope to be great at it... It's a type of defense, when you're talking about pressing, it's reading all the other guys on the court. It's never scripted. It's being able to read when is the right time to go trap, when is the right time to go switch, when is the right time to bluff and stunt at a guy to slow him down. So there's a learning curve in it.”

Jones knows there will also be a learning curve for him personally as a head coach, especially with such a young and inexperienced roster. He expects his team to be overlooked and undervalued by much of the college basketball world, but that's just fine with him.

“I think a lot of people will probably guess that we won't be very good, and that's motivation right there. That's motivation for my staff, for our managers, for the support staff. It's motivation for everybody that's a part of this program to exceed those expectations. So I think that makes for an exciting season.”