Photo: Ben Margot / Associated Press
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Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley probably did Cal a favor by putting a starting lineup on the floor that didn’t include Remy Martin on Wednesday night.
But once the jitterbug guard got into the game, the Bears simply couldn’t hang and took an 80-66 loss in front of a sparse crowd at Haas Pavilion.
“Remy was outstanding,” Hurley said. “He was getting guys involved. He threaded the needle a few times. He was one of the only guys really that had a flow and was making shots on offense.”
Martin, who has come off the bench three other times this season, knocked down 5 of 7 three-point attempts for a season-high 24 points and had eight assists on a night when Cal otherwise showed some defensive improvement.
After allowing 90 points per game during the conference-opening weekend in Los Angeles, the Bears (5-10, 0-3) limited Arizona State to 30.8 percent shooting from three-point range. Complete with matching mouth guards to signify a newfound toughness, Cal got beat on the boards only 34-33 by one of the nation’s top rebounding teams.
But none of it was enough to stay with Arizona State (11-4, 2-1), which had split its past four games, including closing the nonconference slate with dramatically different outcomes. The Sun Devils beat then-No. 1 Kansas on Dec. 22, then lost at home to Princeton on Dec. 29.
Arizona State had three other players in double-digit scoring. Zylan Cheatham had 17 points and six rebounds, Rob Edwards added 13 points and six rebounds, and Luguentz Dort chipped in 13 points.
The Bears, playing without point guard Paris Austin because of a sprained ankle, were led by Matt Bradley’s personal-best 19 points and Darius McNeill’s 16. But Cal shot 38.5 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers to eight assists on a night when it went long stretches without a basket.
“We need our point guard back. Our offense was stifled,” said Cal head coach Wyking Jones, who is hopeful Austin will return Saturday night against Arizona. “… They fed off of us not being able to score. Their offense got ramped up when they were able to get stops, and we just don’t have the same flow offensively that we have when we have Paris.”
Cal trailed for only 18 seconds of the first half and led by as many as 14 points as Arizona State appeared confused by the Bears’ zone defense and opened the game 1-for-12 from the floor and 0-for-7 from three-point range.
Justice Sueing’s swipe and slam midway through the first quarter ignited an 11-1 run that put Cal ahead 25-11. The Sun Devils were still down nine when Hurley lit into his team during a timeout with just more than three minutes to play in the first half.
“What changed was Remy Martin started hitting shots,” Jones said. “… He played a great game. You’ve got to give him credit.”
Martin had seven points and assisted on a Cheatham dunk to trim the deficit to 35-33 before the break. There were four ties and four lead changes in the second half’s opening four minutes, including Cheatham’s three-point play that ended the back and forth.
His layup and the ensuing free throw started a 14-3 run that extended Arizona State’s lead to 55-44 with 9:20 remaining. Cal went 10½ minutes between second-half field goals, finally getting a Bradley three-pointer to fall with 7:43 to go to trim the deficit to 60-49.
“We knew they were going to be a tough, physical team,” Jones said. “They didn’t look like it until the end of the first half. In the second half, they showed us that they were more physical and played tougher than we did tonight.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Cal-men-s-basketball-runs-losing-streak-to-four-13522447.php.