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

Coronavirus: NCAA cancels men's and women's March Madness tournaments

Coronavirus: NCAA cancels men's and women's March Madness tournaments

There will be no NCAA Tournament games at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento or anywhere else. 

Amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the NCAA announced Thursday it was canceling the men's and women's basketball tournaments as well as all other winter and spring championships. 

Golden 1 Center was slated to host the first and second-rounds of the tournament. On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it would hold games without fans in attendance, but as the number of cases continues to rise, Emmert made the prudent choice to cancel the tournament Thursday.

This comes a day after the NBA suspended its season for the foreseeable future after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, the NHL, MLB and MLS suspended or delayed their seasons for varying lengths of time. 

Major college conference tournaments began Tuesday and were set to go through the week until selection Sunday. Most conferences canceled their tournaments early Thursday morning prior to the NCAA's decision to cancel the tournaments. 

This will be the first year since 1938 without a Final Four. 

[RELATED: NBA, G League suspend season amid coronavirus outbreak]

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus as a pandemic. As of Thursday, over 1,300 people in the United States had contracted the virus and 39 had died, according to the Centers or Disease Control, state health officials and NBC News. 

Katie Ledecky was face of USA swimming before starring at Stanford

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USATSI

Katie Ledecky was face of USA swimming before starring at Stanford

In 2012, Katie Ledecky burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old swimming phenom at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Ledecky won gold by blowing away the field in the 800-meter freestyle.

She returned to Olympic glory in 2016, winning four gold medals and a silver in Rio.

Already an established swimming star, Ledecky went Stanford to swim for one of the nation's premier programs. During her freshman season, she set 12 NCAA records and nine American records while leading Stanford to its first team title since 1998. She followed that up a year by setting three more NCAA records, two more American records and helping the Cardinal win another crown. She decided to forgo her final two years at Stanford to turn pro because well ... she's Katie Ledecky.

Learn more about one of the world's best swimmers in this piece from NBC Sports Washington:

Ledecky took the mantle from Michael Phelps as the face of American swimming and has been a dominant force in the pool ever since. She swept gold medals in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle in 2016, setting world records in both the 400 and 800.

In the 2014 and 2015 Pan Pacific Championships, Ledecky won the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle races. Winning all four now is known as the "Ledecky Slam." The 1500 wasn't on the docket at the 2016 Rio games, but it will be this summer in Tokyo, where the American star can try and add an Olympic "Ledecky Slam" to her belt.