- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - There was once a time when it was almost impossible to beat UCLA on its home court.

In their first year under coach Steve Alford, the Bruins are once again proving extremely difficult to beat at Pauley Pavilion.

David Wear scored a career-high 18 points, Kyle Anderson finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five assists and UCLA never trailed en route to a 76-64 victory over California on Sunday evening.

The Bruins (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12) led just 55-52 with 7 minutes remaining, but finished the game on a 21-12 run to pull into a tie for second place in the conference standings with the Golden Bears (14-6, 5-2). UCLA is now 13-1 at home this season, with its only loss coming to No. 1 Arizona.

“Winning at home is what good teams do, and it means a lot,” Anderson said. “It’s very important because this first half of the season we had a lot of home games. We had to capitalize on the opportunities to play at home. It’s good to be second (place) in the conference.”

Bryce Alford scored 13 points, Jordan Adams had 12 and Normal Powell added 11 and to give the Bruins five players in double figures for the seventh time this season. UCLA shot 44.8 percent (26 of 58) from the field in the contest, including 55.6 percent (5 of 9) from 3-point range.

“You have to take care of home court,” Steve Alford said. “When you lose at home it makes it so much tougher on you. In college basketball road wins are awfully hard to get.”

Jordan Mathews scored 18 points and Justin Cobbs scored 14 to lead Cal, which dropped its second straight conference game after beginning Pac-12 play 5-0. The Golden Bears, who lost to USC on Wednesday, never led at any point in their two games this week.

“We are a great team and I know we are capable of doing great things,” Cal freshman guard Jabari Bird said. “We won five games in a row because we were playing great team basketball. We just have to get back to basics.”

While Cal never led, it did make things interesting with a furious second half comeback attempt. Down 51-32 early in the second half, Bird led the Golden Bears on a 20-4 run to pull within three. Bird scored 12 points in the spurt, which spanned just over 8 minutes.

But after Mathews’ 3-pointer from the left wing cut the Bruins lead to three, Anderson and Alford took over to prevent a UCLA collapse.

Anderson converted a three-point play on the ensuing possession and followed with a jumper. Alford nailed a jumper and converted a layup on the next two possessions and then found Adams under the basket to give the Bruins a double-digit lead again at 66-55 with 3:22 remaining, and Cal couldn’t muster another comeback.

Alford scored 11 of his points in the final 8 minutes, including going 5 of 6 from the free throw line.

“(Bryce) made some really crucial plays,” Steve Alford said. “They did some switching and odd defenses and for a freshman to make some of those drives and shots and plays was huge.”

While the Bruins had no trouble scoring, the Golden Bears shot just 34.5 percent from the field, including 19 percent (4 of 21) from beyond the arc.

UCLA outdid Cal by just about every other statistical measure as well. The Bruins outrebounded the Golden Bears, outscored them both in the paint and off the bench and had more blocks, steals and assists.

“I thought we were a half step slow. We looked a scared a little bit,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “UCLA is a very good team. To come in here and win you have to play really well.”

Wear needed only 20 minutes to tie his season-high in scoring, pouring in 16 points in the first half to help stake UCLA to a 40-29 halftime lead. Eight of those points came during a 14-2 run that gave the Bruins a 14-point lead near the break.

“I was just being active and playing with energy,” Wear said. “If you do that and put yourself in positions to be successful, the ball kind of finds you. I was just trying to get in position to get good looks.”

Wear’s previous career-high of 17 points also came against Cal, back on Dec. 31, 2011.

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