While UCLA -- the preseason favorite to win the Pac 12 -- was off losing to St. John’s on Saturday, California was scratching the Bruins off the conference race tote board.
The Bears’ 77-63 victory over Oregon State eliminated the Bruins, who lost to an 11-16 St. John’s team, 66-63, in Madison Square Garden.
California, which is tied for first place, is 12-3 in conference play and UCLA is 8-6. The best the Bruins could do is finish tied with the Bears, who hold the tiebreaker.
The Bears beat the Bruins twice this season.
So where does this leave the Bruins? At the moment tied for sixth with Stanford, behind fifth-place Oregon.
UCLA would do better to finish sixth instead of fifth, as it would avoid a second-round game against California in the conference tournament. The Bruins, as a sixth-seeded team, would play the third-seeded team, at the moment Colorado, in the second round.