UCLA had piled up five straight wins with its high-octane offense. In their Pac-12 opener, the Bruins got it done with defense.
Kyle Anderson had 19 points and 11 of his 12 rebounds on the defensive glass in UCLA's sixth straight victory, 79-65 over California on Thursday night.
Shabazz Muhammad overcame a slow start to finish with 16 points and Travis Wear had 15 for the Bruins (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12), who have won six in a row for the first time since the 2010-11 season when they had two such streaks and last made the NCAA tournament.
"We're an offensive team and to show we played good defense shows we're up for a good outing in the Pac-12," Muhammad said.
UCLA never trailed in the second half, when its biggest lead was 16 points.
"It all started with defense," Anderson said. "We got some stops and were able to score on the other end. When somebody gets beat off the ball, someone is there to help."
The Golden Bears (8-5, 0-1) rallied behind Allen Crabbe to close within four points with 6:33 to play. Crabbe, the Pac-12's leading scorer, was limited in the first half while being guarded by Norman Powell. He had 16 of his 21 points in the second half, on 10 of 21 shooting.
Justin Cobbs added 12 points and Richard Solomon had 11 points and tied his career high with 10 rebounds. The Bears have lost two in a row and five of their last seven.
"We seemed like we were kind of nervous about this game," Crabbe said. "They made shots and they capitalized on our mistakes. They just did a good job defensively."
Crabbe played 39 of 40 minutes, with the Bears lacking a solid bench player to relieve him.
"I'm not going to use (being tired) as an excuse," he said. "Coaches are expecting me to play big minutes in a game like this, so I just have to push through it. I got to the basket for the second time in the first half and then I stopped doing it. I've got to be aggressive for all 40 minutes."
UCLA snapped a three-game skid against Cal, having been swept last season.
The Bruins had scored at least 89 points in their previous four games this season, but they needed their man-to-man defense to preserve this victory.
"I've been really practicing my defense," Muhammad said. "People think I can't. I can play defense, I know I can. That was the one thing that was a hole in my game. That's why I came here, to improve my defense, and it really shows."
The Bruins limited the Bears to 39 percent shooting and held them without a 3-pointer, the second straight game Cal hasn't hit from long-range. The Bears went 0 for 11 against UCLA and were 0 of 6 in a previous loss to Harvard.
Cal rallied in the second half with runs of 6-0, 7-0 and 6-0 before Crabbe's layup drew the Bears to 61-57. From there, the Bruins ended the game on an 18-8 run. They made 11 of 14 free throws down the stretch, with Anderson hitting six.
Early in their run, Muhammad hit a 3-pointer that pushed UCLA's lead back to double digits.
"I always want the ball down the stretch," he said.
Cal jumped out to a 6-0 lead when UCLA missed its first six shots and committed two turnovers to start the game.
The Bruins got back into it and took their first lead on a flurry of 3-pointers by Muhammad, Wear and Powell. Cobbs' basket tied the game at 21-all before UCLA closed the half on a 17-7 run to lead 38-28. Powell scored five points and Wear had four in the spurt.