NCAA

Cal keeping NCAA Tournament hopes alive after falling in Pac-12 semis

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AP

Cal keeping NCAA Tournament hopes alive after falling in Pac-12 semis

BOX SCORE

LAS VEGAS -- Oregon guard Dillon Brooks headed to the bench two minutes into the second half due to foul trouble. Most teams would take a step back without their leading scorer.

The deep, talented Ducks flew forward instead.

Tyler Dorsey had 23 points, Dylan Ennis scored on a key three-point play with 22 seconds left, and No. 5 Oregon outlasted California 73-65 Friday night in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

"Everybody has to pick it up and pick up their role," Dorsey said. "That's what we did tonight. We can't control how the refs are going to call it and they called a couple on Dillon early, and everybody had to pick up."

Top-seeded Oregon (29-4) played most of the second half without Brooks due to foul trouble, but increased its lead behind a rash of blocked shots and transition baskets.

Jordan Bell controlled the inside, finishing with 15 rebounds and five of Oregon's seven blocked shots. Dorsey and Ennis (16 points) picked up the scoring slack.

Now the Ducks are headed to the Pac-12 title game for the third straight year, facing the winner between No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Arizona on Saturday night.

"We would like to win the conference tournament," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Whatever implications those have on our seeding, I don't know."

California (21-12) lost leading scorer Jabari Bird 64 seconds into the game to a head injury after a hard fall, yet held its own with the Ducks.

The fifth-seeded Bears pulled within two in the final minute, but Ennis scored on a hard drive and hit the free throw to put the Ducks up 70-65.

Grant Mullins led Cal with 23 points and Charlie Moore added 15. Bird was at the hospital being evaluated.

"I thought they did a great job competing, but that's what we're supposed to do," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "That's part of our program, so that part should be understood."

Cal took a couple of steps toward earning an at-large NCAA Tournament bid by beating Oregon State and Utah to open the Pac-12 Tournament after closing the regular season with five losses in six games.

Beating a top-five team would have been a huge boost, but it faced long odds coming into the night after losing twice to Oregon during the regular season.

Cal got a tough break barely a minute into Saturday's game, when Bird went down hard. He had to be helped to the locker room while holding a towel to the right side of his head.

But the injury and a quiet start by forward Ivan Raab did little to slow the Bears. They attacked the Ducks at both ends, leading for a good portion of the first half behind Moore and Mullins, who combined for 21 points.

"I didn't know what was going on," Raab said of Bird's injury. "We didn't really have time to really think about it. Guys stepped up and they played hard, and it is what it is."

Oregon turned up the defensive pressure late in the half, holding Cal without a field goal over the final 4:38 to build a 36-33 halftime lead.

Oregon opened the second half by getting into quick foul trouble. The Ducks had six in the opening 2 1/2 minutes - five on one possession - and Brooks had to go to the bench after picking up his fourth.

Despite the fouls, Oregon increased its lead, going up 49-37 after a 9-0 run.

Cal clawed back, whittling the lead down to 64-61 with 3 1/2 minutes left behind a little defense of its own, but couldn't finish it off.

BIG PICTURE

California kept battling after Bird went down and has given itself at least shot at getting an NCAA Tournament nod on selection Sunday.

"I think we're an NCAA Tournament team," Martin said. "Now it's for them to decide."

Oregon did not exactly play pretty, but found a way, earning a trip to the Pac-12 title game for third straight season.

BLOCKING DUCKS

Oregon reached 223 blocked shots for the season, breaking the school record for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The Ducks are one short of the Pac-12 record set by Washington last season.

UP NEXT

California must await word on its postseason fate.

Oregon will play the winner between No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Arizona in Saturday's championship game.

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.