There was no chance it would be as easy for the Cal basketball team all afternoon Saturday as it was for the game's first eight minutes.
But after roaring to a 29-11 lead, then allowing Oregon to climb almost all the way back, the Golden Bears regained their composure in time to escape Haas Pavilion with an 85-77 victory.
While winning a third straight game for the first time since the first three games of the season, the Bears (12-9, 5-4) put themselves in position to own sole possession of fourth place at the halfway point of the Pac-10 schedule.
"We're just building up confidence," freshman Allen Crabbe said. "We're a young team, but we feel like we can compete with anybody in the Pac-10. This was a great week for us."
After sweeping the Oregon schools, the Bears await the outcome of tonight's matchup in Pullman, Wash. A victory by conference-leading Washington over Washington State will leave Cal alone in fourth.
The Bears made 11 of their first 16 shots and cruised through Oregon's full-court pressure to forge an 18-point lead after barely eight minutes. Then Oregon came alive.
"I told the guys the game started at 3 and we showed up about 3:30," Oregon first-year coach Dana Altman said.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery wasn't sure the Ducks (10-11, 3-6) deserved all the credit.
"I can't explain it," Montgomery said. "We sliced and diced early. We made plays. "... They got more aggressive, we got tentative and I thought we got tired, frankly.
"We lost out composure, and all of a sudden we weren't attacking it so intelligently."
Oregon cut the deficit to single digits early in the second half, and Cal never pushed the lead back to 10. The Bears made just four of their first 18 shots in the second half.
But after the Ducks got within 64-63 on two free throws by Jay-R Strowbridge with 7:08 left, Cal responded. Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez scored nine points in the final 7:01, the Bears made their final 11 free throws of the game and scored on their final seven possessions.
"It shows we have matured a lot," said senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison, who overcame early foul trouble to score a career-high 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
Gutierrez had 17 points and five assists. Forward Harper Kamp had 13 points despite sitting for seven minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul. It was his 10th straight double-digit scoring game.
Crabbe scored 18, including three 3-pointers in the first half and a layup off a Gutierrez feed that gave Cal a 77-72 lead with 1:26 left. He has scored in double digits eight straight games.
In some ways, it was his toughest game. He had five of Cal's 15 turnovers against Oregon's pressure after committing just eight in eight previous Pac-10 games.
"I didn't think Allen was very comfortable with it," Montgomery said of the Ducks' press.
Crabbe admitted as much and said his confidence was dinged when his coach glared at him a few times during the heat of the game.
"I took it kind of personally, and that's what kind of affected me," Crabbe said. "I have to learn from that and play on. I kept making mistakes and being hard on myself."
Sanders-Frison was more forgiving.
"This is the most we've been pressured all season "... and him being a freshman, it was something new," Sanders-Frison said. "He still helped us out a lot. He also matured today, learning the do's and don'ts of a full-court press for 40 minutes."
Arizona State (9-12, 1-8
Pac-10) at Cal (12-9, 5-4),
8 p.m. CSNBA