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Archive for Sunday, December 29, 2002

Braun: Bears doomed by 42-24 deficit in first half

December 29, 2002

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— In college basketball, there are no mulligans.

"Is Roy Williams still here?" California coach Ben Braun quipped following the Golden Bears' 80-67 loss to Kansas University. "I was going to ask Roy if we could play the first half over."

Kansas destroyed Cal in the first half, shooting 61.5 percent and outrebounding the Bears, 19-10, on the way to a 42-24 intermission bulge.

"When teams play well, there is always a cause and effect," Braun said, "and when Kansas plays well, a lot of times the other team doesn't."

At halftime, with little chance of overhauling the Jayhawks, Braun said he stressed two factors -- rebounding and free-throw shooting.

"We can't come out of the gates and be down 19-10 on the boards," Braun said. "And we shot only one free throw in the first half. That wasn't the officials. That's us. We aren't going to beat many teams going to the free-throw line one time."

In the second half, the Bears outrebounded Kansas, 17-10, and made more trips to the foul line, although not that many. Cal was 5-of-8 at the charity stripe.

"We corrected some of that in the second half," the Bears' coach said. "You've got to work against Kansas, and we did. We were the aggressor."

A 16-2 spurt, fueled mainly by three-point goals -- three by 6-foot-11 Amit Tamir -- midway through the second half, sliced a 22-point KU lead to eight before KU coach Williams called time and the Jayhawks regrouped.

In the final analysis, the Golden Bears couldn't undo what had been done in the first 20 minutes.

"Our defense struggled for energy today," Cal guard Brian Wethers said. "And our offense made their defense look good. I thought we looked bad because of the decisions we made."

Basically, except for Joe Shipp, the Bears had no offense in the first half. Shipp, a 6-5 senior, scored 14 of his club's 24 points. Shipp, bothered by leg cramps, scored only three points in the second half.

Tamir picked it up after intermission, scoring 14 of his team-high 18 points, mainly because the 23-year-old former member of the Israeli Army canned four of six three-point attempts. He bricked his only first-half trey try.

KU's Nick Collison had shackled Tamir early, perhaps one reason the native of Jerusalem began launching long-rangers, although his reasoning was more generic.

"We were just moving more in the offense," Tamir said, "and that created more looks and gave us more shots."

Bottom line, though, was that Cal shot 43.5 percent (27 of 62) for the game and Kansas made 31 of 49 shots (63.3 percent).

"Kansas played a fabulous game, especially in the first half," Braun said. "Give them credit."

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