BERKELEY — Cal’s typically stingy defense failed it at crucial junctures Friday night as the Golden Bears dropped their Pac-12 Conference opener to No. 18 Arizona 67-62 at Haas Pavilion.
After entering the game with the nation’s sixth-ranked field-goal percentage defense (36.6 percent), the Golden Bears allowed the Wildcats to shoot 53.3 percent from the field in the second half en route to their third loss in five games.
Cal lost despite receiving a double-double from Ivan Rabb. The sophomore forward from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.
Senior guard Jabari Bird also had 16 points for Cal (9-4, 0-1 Pac-12), which lost its second straight to an opponent ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 25. The Bears fell to then-No. 12 Virginia 56-52 on Dec. 21.
Arizona’s Sean Miller his 200th victory as the Wildcats’ head coach. The win was the 320th overall for Miller, who coached at Xavier for five seasons before taking over the Wildcats.
Dusan Ristic netted 16 points to lead Arizona (12-2, 1-0).
After trailing 32-26 at halftime, Arizona opened the second half with a 12-2 spurt. Wildcats guard Kobi Simmons scored the last eight points of that run to put Arizona ahead 38-36, the Cats’ first lead since early in the first half.
That run was interrupted only by Bird’s second dunk of the game.
The Golden Bears fought back, temporarily regaining the lead on a jumper by Rabb. Arizona responded with a jumper by the Rawle Atkins that put the Wildcats back in front…
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