EUGENE, Ore. — Walking toward the locker room after Cal's 64-49 victory over Oregon on Saturday afternoon, Max Zhang conked his head on a large pipe running across a low ceiling in the bowels of McArthur Court. The collision sent him to the floor.
It was the only thing that slowed the 7-foot-21/4 center all day.
"I do that all the time," Zhang said.
Zhang, who hadn't seen any meaningful playing time the past four games, came in midway through the second half and gave the Golden Bears (18-9, 10-5) a huge boost in a game they had to win to hold onto first place in the Pac-10.
The sophomore from China played only five minutes, but had eight points, a rebound, set a screen to free up Jerome Randle for a 3-pointer and even collected three fouls before taking a seat.
Cal led by five points when he entered the game and was comfortably ahead 57-47 when he left with 5:42 left.
"Max was great tonight," senior Patrick Christopher said. "I always think it's kind of funny when he runs to the scorer's table and you hear a roar from the crowd and everybody's trying to figure out, 'Who is this guy?'
"Then he came in and he performed ... he gave them a show. He came in, I threw him a quick pass, he caught it, got fouled, went to the line. He came in very calm and
Randle had 16 points to move past Lamond Murray into second place on Cal's career scoring list — he now has 1,702 points
Theo Robertson added 16 points and Christopher overcame a 1-for-9 first-half shooting performance to contribute 10. Coach Mike Montgomery said Christopher did not practice much of the week because of tendinitis in his knee.
"I had a rough game," Christopher said, "but we won (so) I don't care."
Cal, coming off an 80-64 upset loss at Oregon State two nights before, shot 25.8 percent against Oregon's zone defense and had nine turnovers while taking just a 24-23 lead into halftime.
Playing more aggressively, Cal made 12 of its first 16 second-half shots to take control.
The Bears were solid defensively all game. Oregon shot 1-for-11 from 3-point range, had just one assist and 13 turnovers.
The Ducks' final field goal of the game came with 10:33 left when Jeremy Jacob made a baseline jumper. Jamal Boykin picked up his third foul on the play, prompting Montgomery to send in Zhang, mostly for defensive purposes.
"We hadn't really anticipated the offensive boost we got with him," Montgomery said. "The way they were extending their zone, the post guys were hard to find. Max was easier to find.
"He did make a huge difference."
Zhang made his only two shots from the field, one of them a dunk, and was 4-for-5 at the foul line.
"I feel really happy I could help the team," Zhang said. "I'm glad I stayed ready. When I got the ball, I just tried to go up strong. It turned out pretty well."
So did Cal's final visit to 83-year-old McArthur Court, which is closing after this season. Montgomery admitted he will miss the place.
"Yeah, I got some rats who are buddies, we're on a first-name basis, we talk," he said. "I've been coming here a long time. It's a great venue to play basketball."
It hasn't been so good lately for coach Ernie Kent's squad. The Ducks are 0-5 in February and slipped to 6-26 in Pac-10 play the past two seasons.