The California men’s basketball team was picked to finish first in the Pac-10 for a reason, UCLA coach Ben Howland said in the postgame press conference. That reason was on full display in a matchup of two then-first place teams at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.

Bruin guard Michael Roll called that reason the “The Big Three,” and they were indeed huge in helping the Golden Bears to reverse an early lead for the home team and take home the win.

The senior trio of Theo Robertson, Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle scored a combined 54 points including 10 baskets from long range. Every time the Bruins made a run, one of those players was there with a clutch three or a driving layup to quell the surge.

“They hit timely baskets,” Roll said. “They had big shots at key times to silence the crowd and stop our boys from getting back in the game.”

With Randle, second in the Pac-10 in 3-pointers made, possessing NBA range, the Bears are a dangerous team from the outside.

This was not the case when UCLA (11-12, 6-5 Pac-10) stole an overtime upset win from Cal (15-8, 7-4) in Berkeley earlier this season. In that game, the Bears’ three stars never found their stroke, going a combined 2-for-16 from beyond the arc.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, lightning did not strike twice.

“(I give) a lot of credit to them,” Roll said. “They just started making shots.”

However, as Howland noted, it wasn’t just the long ball that allowed them to beat the Bruins’ defense on Saturday.

“They really broke us down with their dribble penetration,” he said. “Whether it’s man or zone, that’s been something that’s plagued us all year, the ability to stay in front of the ball.”

Cal’s backcourt makes it the most experienced team in the league, which stands in sharp contrast with UCLA, who has one of its more youthful teams in years. Howland noted the difference as it was manifested in his players’ on-court demeanor.

“It’s a mental thing,” he said. “Being able to take them coming back and making some shots, instead of dropping our head a little bit. Picking each other up: We’ve got to get better at that.”

Roll did his best, turning in one of his better shooting games of the season for a game-high 22 points. But his senior classmate was nowhere to be found.

Forward Nikola Dragovic ““ the team’s scoring leader in conference play ““ was held without a field goal in the first half and made just one after the break.