Arizona Basketball

Cal gives Arizona Wildcats first loss of season; Ashley out with foot injury


Cal guard Justin Cobbs nails a dagger in Arizona’s unbeaten season, a 17-foot fall away jump shot over Kaleb Tarczewski with one second remaining to upset the Wildcats 60-58 at sold out Haas Pavilion.

With the refs waving for a stoppage of play to check the clock, some of the crowd rushed on to the court, making Cal coach Mike Montgomery livid, fearing a technical foul. The refs set the clock to 0:09. Arizona’s last-gasp try, a length-of-the-court pass was knocked away by Cal.

The Wildcats are 21-1 overall and 8-1 in the Pac-12. Their school-record eight-week run as the No. 1 team in the nation will likely come to an end with No. 2 Syracuse beating visiting Duke earlier today.

Cobbs scored 16 of his 19 points to lead the Golden Bears, who ended a three-game losing streak and is 15-7 and 6-3.

Nick Johnson had his toughest game as a Wildcat, shooting 1-of-14 from the field, including a miss on a runner in Arizona’s last possession.

Game is tied at 58 with 42.3 seconds remaining and the Arizona Wildcats with the ball. Johnson is 1-for-13. Does he get the shot?

In the face adversity, Arizona Wildcats are again showing their resolve, making their first 16 free-throw attempts and playing with guts at soldout Haas Pavilion.

Kaleb Tarczewski has made 12 of them. He becomes the 10th Arizona player to shoot at least 12-12 from the line (if he stays perfect). Game is tied at 54 with less than 5 minutes remaining.

T.J. McConnell is 5-for-11 from the field. He just made his first turnover, a charging call with 3:45 remaining and the Wildcats ahead 56-54.

Not only is Brandon Ashley out with a foot injury and Nick Johnson suffering from a sore wrist but Class of 2014 recruit Kadeem Allen of Hutchinson (Kan.) Junior College is also hurting:

If Arizona can fight its way back from this predicament, it would be the Wildcats’ best win of the season.

No Brandon Ashley. A cold-shooting Nick Johnson, with sore wrist. Wildcats are shooting only 31 percent from the field. Cal built an eight-point lead.

The Golden Bears are shooting better than they showed in their three-game losing streak (4 of 7 from three-point range).


Nick Johnson, holding his left wrist as he heads to the bench, is experiencing one of his toughest games, shooting 1-for-10 from the field with four turnovers as Cal leads 42-39 with 13:10 left in regulation.

Johnson re-aggravated an injury but only sore and able to play.

Arizona Wildcats making a game of it at raucous Haas Pavilion by continuing to attack the basket and Aaron Gordon playing like a beast on the board.

Cal leads 37-35 with 15:49 left in regulation behind Gordon’s 12 rebounds. The Wildcats are shooting only 29.5 percent from the field, including a 1-of-9 shooting performance by Nick Johnson. Brandon Ashley is out of the game with a foot injury.

Another reason so close: Only five turnovers (including none to this point by T.J. McConnell) and an incredible 8-of-8 performance from the free-throw line.

Arizona has kept this game close despite early adversity with Brandon Ashley going down with a foot injury two minutes into the game because of the play of Aaron Gordon and T.J. McConnell.

The Golden Bears, who led by as many as nine points, took only a 30-29 advantage into halftime when it seemed like it should be more.

Gordon is threatening to post a triple-double with 10 rebounds, six points and five assists. One of his scoring passes was to McConnell, who is shooting 3-of-7 from the field but hit some timely shots when Cal was rallying.

Arizona is shooting only 30 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range. The Golden Bears, led by Richard Solomon’s 12 points (making all six of his field goals), are shooting 46.7 percent after being in the mid-50s for most of the half.

Cal had only two field goals in the last six minutes of the half, both by Solomon. The Golden Bears were 1-for-4 with two turnovers in the last five minutes.

Solomon’s teammates were 8-of-24 from the field in the first half, only 33 percent. Justin Cobbs has only three points on 1-of-4 shooting.

California leads by only five (30-25 with 3:15) when it feels like the Golden Bears should be up by at least 10. Aaron Gordon is in beast mode, with nine rebounds, five on the offensive end. He is shooting 3-for-10 from the field but that is not holding him back.

Nick Johnson made his first field goal with 4:54 remaining to cut Cal’s lead to 28-21. He is 1-for-7 from the field as the Wildcats are scrapping to keep the game close before halftime.

Arizona is facing the same kind of adversity that Washington State (Davonte Lacy) and ASU (Jermaine Marshall) had playing at McKale Center without one of their best players as Brandon Ashley is forced to watch.

California has its biggest lead 24-17 with 7:31 left in the first half and it’s obvious that Haas Pavilion is hopping.

Nick Johnson has yet to make field goal (0-for-4) and … Brandon Ashley is out of the game with his right foot wrapped with ice after twisting his right ankle two minutes into tonight’s game. The Wildcats continue to attack the basket with Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski shooting seven times.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has played in his place in the game. Ashley left the court noticeably hobbling and grimacing. He is sitting without that grimace on the bench. It appears that this is a precautionary measure.

Void left by Ashley’s absence: 12 points and six rebounds a game and decent free-throw shooter (75.7 percent). Arizona continues to attack the basket without Ashley as Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon have combined for seven field goal attempts (making only one). Cal is ahead 18-17 with 9:18 left before halftime.

Arizona and Cal are off to a furious pace 9-9 at the first TV timeout with 15:38 remaining in the first half but backcourt mate T.J. McConnell has five points on 2-of-3 shooting, including 1-of-2 from three-point range. This has a pace of an 80-point score for each team. …

Arizona junior forward Brandon Ashley fell to the floor after rolling his ankle slightly in the first 2:08 of the game. Rondae-Hollis Jefferson replaced Ashley, who went to the locker room noticeably hobbling. ..

Anthony Gimino did this sort of thing so well for … I will try my best.

Pac-12 reporting that 24 NBA scouts are in attendance and “Arizona basketball royalty” including Steve Kerr. Sean Rooks, whose son Kameron Rooks is a freshman center with the Bears, is likely also at Haas Pavilion. …

One interesting note about Cal’s current three-game losing streak: The Golden Bears are 13 of 51 (25.5 percent) from three-point range against USC, UCLA and ASU. That’s not good news going against an Arizona defense that ranks No. 22 nationally, limiting opponents to 29.3 percent.

Other notes ..

Cal owns a 2-24 all-time record against No. 1 teams in the Associated Press national poll. The Golden Bears’ two victories over top-ranked teams came on Jan. 30, 1994 in an 85-70 victory over UCLA at the Oakland Coliseum that included a triple-double from Jason Kidd (18 pts., 14 rebs. and 12 asts.) and Jan. 17, 1960 in a 77-69 win over Cincinnati in the 1960 Final Four National Semifinal game at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Calif.

Arizona is ranked sixth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (37.2) and fourth in scoring defense (56.7). The Wildcats are not great free-throw shooters but they don’t put the opposition on the line too much. They rank No. 16 nationally with only 16.3 fouls per game. …

Allen Crabbe was a significant reason why Cal upset Arizona last February in Tucson. He had 31 in the 77-69 upset. He is averaging only 5.1 minutes a game with Portland after foregoing his senior season. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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