The second half of the Pac-12 Conference men's basketball race is under way and Stanford finds itself in a solid position following an important victory on Wednesday.
With Dwight Powell scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, the Cardinal pinned an 80-69 defeat on host California in Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
Chasson Randle, celebrating his 21st birthday, added 19 points for the Cardinal (6-4, 15-7) while Anthony Brown scored 10 of his 16 points over the final 9:12 of the contest.
For the time being, Stanford rests comfortably in a three-way tie for third place, a half-game behind UCLA and 2 1/2 games behind Arizona.
Stanford takes a week off before traveling to Washington for a conference game next Wednesday. The Cardinal also plays at Washington State three days later.
"Well, as always it is, an incredible game anytime you have a rivalry game," said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. "I think that was evident not only in the way the game was played but from last game to this game and within this game itself. I am very proud of our guys, and that is what I told them in the locker room.
"When Cal made the run to close the first half, that can be hard to withstand. They closed the half with two 3-pointers and cut the lead to six. I was like 'where is my team', and I found out a lot about us. I found out that our guys have a lot of substance to weather that storm, come out and regroup. That says a lot about their character."
After starting the conference season with a pair of losses, Stanford has won six of its past eight and has put a stamp on the Pac-12 race.
California (6-4, 15-8), which knocked off the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion in the conference opener, was atop the conference standings, with Arizona, not that long ago. The Bears even toppled the top-ranked Wildcats last weekend, handing them their first loss of the season.
Thus, the Bears' effort against Stanford was disappointing to Cal head coach Mike Montgomery.
"I can't say I was surprised at how aggressive Stanford played, especially with us having beaten them there and coming off a pretty good weekend," Montgomery said. "They got a split but they could have beaten Arizona. They have been more aggressive than us on many occasions the last few years. They've been more aggressive in the games here. I think they were again. They're very physical. We didn't handle that very well. As a result we got ourselves in a huge hole. Then we got ourselves on a little run but we couldn't sustain it.
"Stanford was probably disappointed we won at their place. There were probably some raised eyebrows or surprise. They've pretty much held serve since then and matched us. Our work is really cut out for us. We're going to have to look at each game as really important. I think Stanford deserved to win. I thought they played well. They had some key people perform. We had some key people not perform, not make shots and not do what they normally would do."
Meanwhile, Powell has enjoyed success against the Bears in his Stanford career, with his 112 points against them his most against any team.
"Dwight didn't shoot the ball as well as he does, but he provided us with a presence out on the floor," Dawkins said. "Whether he is on the perimeter or the post, people have to pay so much attention to what he does. What I am more happy about, and proud of, is that he took 17 shots and I am equally as happy that he had six assists. He makes guys better. He is capable of scoring himself but he has shown that and he is one of the best players in this conference and I think he showed that again tonight."
The Cardinal led for all but the first 1:27 of the game, building leads of 18 points in the first half and 17 points in the second half.
Randle hit a 3-pointer to put Stanford ahead, 38-20, with 6:32 left in the first half. The Bears cut into that lead, settling for six-point deficit at halftime, 42-36.
Brown hit a pair of free throws with 3:52 left to play to put the Cardinal ahead, 69-52. Stanford maintained its lead by making nine of 10 foul shots over the final 1:54 of play.
Stanford limited its turnovers and held a 21-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
California was led by Justin Cobbs' 24 points. The Golden Bears shot only 41.3 percent overall, 12-21 from the charity stripe and were forced into 13 turnovers.
"We had trouble scoring. There's no question about that," Montgomery said. "We had a run at the end of the first half that got us to six. We wanted to get it under 10 and we got it to six, which was probably better than we expected. We got three great looks coming out of the locker room that were probably the best shots we got in the whole game to start the second half but didn't make any of them. We made some poor decisions mentally in that stretch rather than be patient.
"We couldn't keep them off the foul line or defend. Some of the turnovers happened in a critical time. We didn't do a great job on the boards blocking off so we couldn't get the ball cleanly. We ended up shooting 41 percent for the game but it seemed a lot worse than that."
Stanford shot 43.4 percent overall, made 6-of-14 from long distance and produced season-high totals in makes (28) and attempts (35) from the foul line. The performance was a sharp contrast from Stanford's 10-20 total in the first meeting at Maples Pavilion. Powell did the bulk of the damage, making 11-of-14 from the charity stripe and improving to 21-26 over the past two games.
NOTES: Stanford has won four of the last six meetings against California and two in a row at Haas Pavilion . . . Powell notched his seventh double-double of the year and 20th of his career. The 20-point game was his fifth of the season and 15th career . . . In nine career matchups against California, Powell is averaging 12.4 points and 6.3 rebounds . . . Brown reached double figures for the 15th time this season . . . Josh Huestis was credited with one block, increasing his career total to 162 as he continues to chase Tim Young (167) for the school record . . . Stanford committed only nine turnovers and has now registered less than 10 miscues in six of the past eight games. The Cardinal is 6-2 during that stretch . . . Stanford's six 3-pointers came from five different players . . . Stanford improved to 11-1 when leading at halftime . . . The Cardinal has scored at least 70 points in 16 of its 22 games this year.