BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — For being one of the best 3-point shooters in the Pac-12, Jordan Mathews sure struggled with his shot early in California’s conference opener against the University of Colorado.
A reminder of a pep talk he had with his father, former San Francisco coach Phil Mathews, was all it took to get the Golden Bears’ shooting guard going.
Mathews matched his season high of 22 points and made five 3-pointers in the second half as California beat Colorado 79-65 in the Pac-12 opener for both teams Friday night.
“We know we can score so, as long as we lock down the defensive end, it’s great for us moving forward,” said Mathews, who went 6 of 11 from the floor. “The Pac is tough. It’s always good to start off with a win.”
Mathews missed his first four shots from beyond the arc and had just two points in the first half before warming up. His fourth 3 of the night gave Cal a 57-37 lead while his fifth stopped a big run by Colorado and enabled the Bears (11-3) to pull away.
It was Mathews’ second straight game with five 3s.
“After the Virginia game I went home and watched tape with my dad and he said ‘Even the shots you don’t think you’re going to make, if you follow through you have a good chance to make them,'” Mathews said. “As long as I stay in the follow through, and my teammates set me up with great passes, I was able to knock them down.”
Jaylen Brown added 17 points and 11 rebounds for California while Kingsley Okoroh scored 10 points before fouling out with 3:42 remaining. The Bears remained unbeaten in 10 home games this season.
Josh Scott had 16 points and seven rebounds for Colorado. The Buffaloes (11-3) have lost two straight since their 11-game winning streak.
California scored the first 10 points of the game and led by as many as 23 while getting four players in double figures.
As good as the Bears offense was, their defense was just as crisp.
Colorado went into game as the top 3-point shooting team in the conference but went just 3 of 11 from beyond the arc.
“We’re getting there,” California coach Cuonzo Martin said. “This might have been 34 minutes. If we can get it to 40 minutes, we should be good. The 3-point shots that they made, I thought it was our breakdown when they made those shots.”
The second-half shooting display by Mathews was in stark contrast to the first half when the Bears used their inside game to build a commanding lead.
Colorado: The Buffaloes missed 11 of their first 12 shots from the floor and were held scoreless until 13:49 remained in the first half. . Tory Miller suffered an apparent head injury late in the first half and was helped off the court. He returned in the second half but played only four minutes after getting hurt and finished with four points. . Colorado is winless in 11 games at Berkeley.
California: The Bears have won eight of their last 11 conference openers. . California made only 1 of 10 3-point shots in the first half. . Ivan Rabb was limited to four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. . Wallace moved past Rickey Hawthorne into 13th place on Cal’s career scoring list.
Kingsley Okoroh, Cal’s 7-foot-1 center, had scored just five points all season before breaking out against Colorado. He finished with 10 points, five rebounds and a career-high-tying four blocks while helping hold Scott to 4-of-16 shooting. “I always had the confidence,” Okoroh said. “I’ve just been inconsistent with it sometimes. Today it finally showed what I can do.”
Colorado: At Stanford on Sunday.
California: Hosts No. 21 Utah on Sunday.
By Michael Wagaman, AP Writer
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