NCAA

Is Cal-Stanford destined for a revived rivalry?

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Is Cal-Stanford destined for a revived rivalry?

Somebody tell Jorge Gutierrez that a rivalry is about to be born. Again.You might recall the Cal guard opining after the Bears' win over Stanford on January 29th that he didn't think this was a rivalry because, "Whoever is on top is our rival." I'm guessing the Cardinal gleaned some motivation from that last Sunday, when they beat Cal at Maples and denied the Bears a regular-season conference title.Now, it's the Bears who will be motivated by revenge when the two rivals - yes Jorge, it's true - meet for a third time this season on Thursday. Cal will also be playing to secure its status as an NCAA tournament team. Personally I think the Bears are in regardless, but losing three straight to end the season is not the best way to announce your presence with authority to the selection committee.Expect an all-out war at Staples.PAC-12 Tournament notes:
Stanford is supremely confident right now, having won three of the last four in impressive fashion. Perhaps nobody is feelings it more than Chasson Randle, whose 27 points in the first half against ASU were a tournament record for points in a half. Randle finished with a career-high 30.At the other end of the confidence spectrum is Josh Owens. The fifth-year senior - and all conference performer - has scored a total of six points in the last two games. He's committed eight fouls during that stretch.Former Stanford coach - and current Cal coach - Mike Montgomery looked awfully calm as he sat courtside during Wednesday's game, enjoying a tub of popcorn. I am guessing Monty will be substantially less calm before tipoff.The crowd at Staples was modest at best, even for the battle of hometown teams! UCLA and USC. The crowd at the MGM Grand will likely be much more impressive next season, if the tournament moves to Vegas as expected. That topic has been by far the most buzzworthy this week.One team nobody seems to want a part of right now: Oregon. The Ducks have won four straight and six of seven, and with an RPI of 51 might well be one win away from an at-large NCAA bid. And for what it's worth, they pass the eyeball test.

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.