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

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.