NCAA

No. 14 San Diego State tops California 77-57

No. 14 San Diego State tops California 77-57

Dec. 8, 2010BOX SCORENCAA SCOREBOARD

BERKELEY (AP) When San Diego State was ranked for the first time when the preseason poll came out, coach Steve Fisher told his players to wait until Dec. 9 to see how good they really were.How does the best start in the 90-year history of the school sound, coach?Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and D.J. Gay scored all 14 of his points in the second half to give No. 14 San Diego State its ninth straight win to open the season, 77-57 over California on Wednesday night."That means we've not fallen on our face, which sometimes happens," Fisher said. "You get rated and then you don't live up to what expectations are held by others. Our town, they are a bit unrealistic in terms of what they think we are. They think we could probably play the Celtics and if Kevin Garnett would not play we'd have a chance."While the Celtics might be a bit too much, the Aztecs (9-0) have won on the road already at the teams that won the Pac-10 and West Coast Conference regular season titles last season, having also beaten Gonzaga.The Aztecs surpassed their 1984-85 and 2006-07 teams that opened the season with eight straight wins and gave Fisher his best start in 20 full seasons as a head coach.San Diego State wore down the Golden Bears (5-3) with their athleticism in the second half to win a road game against a Pac-10 school for the first time since December 1982 at Oregon. They had lost 20 straight road games to Pac-10 teams and hadn't beaten any team on the road from one of the six big conferences since knocking off Northwestern in December 1996."We've proven that we have a very good team," Gay said. "The potential for this team is endless. We're going to be as good as we want to be and as hard as we work. We're just enjoying this ride and not ready for it to end."Jorge Gutierrez scored 19 points for the Bears and Harper Kamp added 18 for the Bears, who had won 22 straight nonconference home games since falling to Utah three years ago.The Aztecs took control of the game with a 15-2 run that began shortly after Cal big man Markhuri Sanders-Frison briefly went to the bench midway through the second half with a right leg injury.Gay started the spurt with two 3-pointers, James Rahon added two baskets and then Leonard hit a 3 from the corner to give San Diego State its first double-digit lead.Billy White's uncontested jam on a breakaway sent Cal coach Mike Montgomery into a stomping tirade as he lashed out at his team during a timeout for failing to get back on defense. The Aztecs led 58-44 at that point, which proved to be too large a hurdle for the Bears to overcome."We just needed to make more hustle plays and that's what we did," San Diego State guard Chase Tapley said. "We needed to make our energy better."White added another breakaway tomahawk dunk with to make it 67-52 just over 4 minutes to go, generating big cheers from the sizable contingent of Aztecs fans who made the trip north to watch their team beat the defending Pac-10 regular season champions.This version of the Bears isn't nearly as good, having lost Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin to graduation. But Cal was coming off a win at Iowa State and had also knocked off No. 21 Temple last month.But they proved to be no match for the Aztecs, who also got 15 points from James Rahon, 10 from White and shot 71 percent in the second half.The first half was far from an artistic masterpiece with White's airball on the opening possession for San Diego State an omen for things to come.Rahon, a transfer from nearby Santa Clara, made three straight 3-pointers midway through the half as the Aztecs took advantage of a long Cal shooting drought to turn a five-point deficit into a six-point lead."They kicked it out three times for wide open 3s," Montgomery said. "It was lost vision. We tried the zone. They have the reputation for not being a great zone team but they found the open guy and we didn't cover very well."The Bears missed 13 straight shots over a span of more than 10 minutes before Kamp's tip-in ended the 13-2 run for San Diego State. Long scoring droughts are not new for the Bears, who were held to five points in the first half of a loss to Notre Dame last month.This wasn't nearly as bad even though Cal had as many turnovers as baskets with seven and shot just 24.1 percent in the opening half. The Bears trailed only 28-26 at the break when Gutierrez made three free throws after being fouled by Mehdi Cheriet on a 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds to go.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

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AP

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”