NCAA

Cal advances to Pac-12 semifinals behind another big game from Bird

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AP

Cal advances to Pac-12 semifinals behind another big game from Bird

BOX SCORE

LAS VEGAS -- Jabari Bird had 26 points and scored on a key three-point play with 14 seconds left, helping California hold off Utah 78-75 on Thursday in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.

Cal (21-11) led by 11 with 2:17 left, but Utah (20-11) charged back, pulling to 73-72 with 29 seconds left. Bird followed with a hard drive and was fouled, but Kyle Kuzma hit a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game again.

Bird hit two free throws and Utah's Sedrick Barefield missed a wild 3-pointer at the buzzer, sending the Bears charging from their bench.

Charlie Moore added 21 points for fifth-seeded Cal, which moves on to play No. 5 and top-seeded Oregon in Friday's semifinals

Kuzma had 23 points to lead the fourth-seeded Utes.

Both teams entered the Pac-12 Tournament likely needing a decent run to have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament.

Utah put a big dent in Cal's chances with a 30-point win on March 2, part of five losses in six games to close the season by the Bears. The Utes closed the regular season with three straight losses, but earned a bye in the conference tournament.

Cal set up the bubble match-up by outlasting Oregon State in the opening round.

Utah beat Cal by two in overtime in the first meeting during the regular season and the tournament game played out more like that one, neither team able to get much separation in the first half.

Kuzma had 13 points, but Utah scored 12 on eight offensive rebounds to it 30-all at halftime.

Cal made five of its first nine shots in the second half and did a better job of containing Kuzma, building the lead 44-35 in the opening four minutes.

The Bears continued to keep Utah at arm's length, going up 57-47 on Bird's 3-pointer from the wing, their 10th made basket in 17 second-half shots.

Utah stormed back in the closing minutes behind Kuzma, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 67 seconds.

BIG PICTURE

Cal has taken two solid steps toward the NCAA Tournament and can take a big one Friday if it can knock off Oregon in the semifinals.

Utah will have to sweat out selection Sunday to see if it will be among the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

UP NEXT

Cal plays No. 5 and top-seeded Oregon in Friday's semifinals

Utah will likely play in the NCAA Tournament or NIT

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

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AP

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

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USATSI

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
 
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
 
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
 
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
 
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
 
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.