Louisville vs California

California pulls away from ninth-seeded Louisville


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- California's distractions seem about as distant now as the Pacific Ocean.

That disappointing loss in the Pac-10 tournament? Getting sent across the country to open the NCAA tournament? The suspension of a starter?

The Golden Bears overcame them all -- and showed even more resiliency in the first round against Louisville.

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Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson -- Cal's senior stars -- stole the show, carrying the eighth-seeded Bears to a 77-62 victory over the No. 9 seed Louisville Friday night and advancing to the second round for the first time since 2003.

"It's a new season for us," Christopher said. "Regardless of what's happened, we've put it in the past. ... The time to play well is now."

Randle and Robertson scored 21 points apiece, Christopher added 17 points and eight rebounds, and the Bears (24-10) responded to everything Louisville (20-13) could muster in the South Regional game.

Their reward? No. 1 seed Duke on Sunday.

The Bears don't want to think about that one just yet. They'd rather savor this victory. There was plenty to enjoy, too.

They jumped out to an 18-point lead, watched Louisville whittle it down to six, then pulled back out front by 14. They watched that cushion get cut to 62-58 with 6:55 remaining, then stepped on the gas for good. Cal close it out with a 15-4 run.

"We didn't panic, and we got it done," Christopher said.

Rakeem Buckles led Louisville with a career-high 20 points. Leading scorer Samardo Samuels added 16.

But the inconsistent Cardinals had no answers early and even fewer late. Coach Rick Pitino wanted his team to foul Max Zhang in the final minutes, attempting to send the 50-percent free throw shooter to the line, but officials called Kyle Kuric for an intentional foul that got the coach's blood boiling and led to a technical.

Randle and Zhang made their free throws, ending any thoughts of a late comeback.

"It was rough tonight," Samuels said. "They came out real aggressive to start and we played catch-up all night. We finally got them tired, but you get them against the ropes and they hit a 3 and that deflates you."

Cal shot 51 percent from the field, even better from 3-point range (53.3 percent) and made 17 of 22 free throws. But the real damage came in the opening minutes.

The game was delayed 19 minutes because of a malfunctioning shot clock, but once it started, the Cardinals looked like the ones who needed repairs. They missed 11 of their first 13 shots and had no answer for the hot-shooting Bears.

Cal connected on seven of its first 10 shots, including four of six from 3-point range, and opened an 18-point lead with a little more than 6 minutes gone in the game.

"They were determined to come out ready to play," said Bears coach Mike Montgomery, adding his team was eager to play better than it did in last year's first-round loss Maryland.

Christopher, taking advantage of so much attention on Randle, hit three from behind the arc. Jamal Boykin dropped a couple of jumpers, Robertson chipped in five points and, all of a sudden, no one was questioning whether Cal would miss suspended forward Omondi Amoke.

Amoke was "temporarily suspended" for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Coach Mike Montgomery went with a three-guard lineup that helped counter Louisville's press.

The Cards, meanwhile, couldn't seem to do anything right.

They had three turnovers in their first eight possessions, got called for an intentional foul and even had a band member yelling, "Don't be afraid to score."

Pitino got into a heated confrontation with an assistant during one timeout and was equally short-tempered with his players. But they responded. After trailing 22-4, the Cards started getting to loose balls, creating turnovers, grabbing offensive rebounds and hitting 3s.

They really got things turned around with a 12-0 run that made it 30-24 with 6:48 remaining in the half.

But Cal cranked it back up. Randle made two free throws, Christopher hit a 12-footer and then Randle drained a long-range 3 at the buzzer while jumping off one leg. It swished the net and had Louisville's players shaking their heads as they headed to the locker room.

They never really recovered.

"We dug a big hole and it was one of those days," Samuels said. "That last-minute shot at halftime sums it up. Shooting off one leg? C'mon, man."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Louisville #9303262
California #8 «413677
LOU:Rakeem Buckles 20 Pts
LOU:Rakeem Buckles 9 Reb
LOU:Edgar Sosa 5 Ast
CA:Jerome Randle 21 Pts
CA:Patrick Christopher 8 Reb
CA:Jamal Boykin 5 Ast

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Theo Robertson
Rakeem Buckles
Louisville Cardinals
S. Samuels, F356-84-661316
E. Sosa, G293-71-30548
J. Smith, G252-80-02225
J. Swopshire, F211-70-08003
R. Delk, G120-10-00300
K. Kuric, G231-20-03023
R. Buckles, F1910-110-090420
P. Knowles, G181-80-02123
P. Siva, G81-30-01112
T. Jennings, F51-40-00012
M. Marra, G50-10-01000
C. Brickley, GDid Not Play
G. Goode, FDid Not Play
R. Phares, FDid Not Play
C. Smith, GDid Not Play
S. Van Treese, FDid Not Play
Totals 26-605-932132062
California Golden Bears
J. Randle, G405-99-1052021
P. Christopher, G387-150-083317
T. Robertson, F388-112-352221
J. Boykin, F344-91-13539
J. Gutierrez, G322-43-52427
M. Zhang, C130-12-32112
M. Sanders-Frison, C30-10-00030
N. Knezevic, G20-10-00000
O. Amoke, FDid Not Play
B. Bak, FDid Not Play
N. Carter, GDid Not Play
H. Kamp, FDid Not Play
D. Seeley, GDid Not Play
B. Smith, GDid Not Play
R. Thurman, FDid Not Play
Totals 26-5117-2225171477
Conference USA
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Middle Tenn.0-07-214
Old Dominion0-07-368
La. Tech0-07-489
So. Miss0-07-4257
Western Ky.0-07-466
UT-San Antonio0-07-5240
North Texas0-06-5256

Pac 10
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-L
Washington St.9-922-13
Oregon St.5-1311-20
Arizona St.4-1412-19
Other games
Morg St 50 Final
W Virg 77
Minn 54 Final
XAV 65
CORN 78 Final
Temple 65
Siena 64 Final
Purdue 72
Missouri 86 Final
WOFF 49 Final
Wisc 53
OAK 66 Final
Utah St 53 Final
Tx A&M 69
Florida St 60 Final
GT 64 Final
Okla St 59
Ark-PB 44 Final
N Mex St 67 Final
Mich St 70
UVM 56 Final
Syracuse 79
UCSB 51 Final
Ohio St 68
HOU 77 Final
MD 89