No. 1-ranked Stanford, trailing by eight points on its home court to Washington State, had a "little discussion" at halftime, Coach Mike Montgomery said.
The players said it was a bit more dramatic.
"Well, we got yelled at. Coach is not one to swear and curse at us," forward Justin Davis said. "Nobody likes to get yelled at. It was a good motivator."
Stanford went on to beat Washington State, 75-64, Thursday night. Casey Jacobsen scored 21 points for Stanford, 24-1 overall and 12-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference. The Cardinal returned to No. 1 this week after North Carolina lost to Clemson Sunday.
Washington State (11-13, 4-10) was without top scorer Mike Bush, who sprained his ankle in practice Tuesday. Jerry McNair took over for Bush and scored a career-high 29 points to lead the scrappy Cougars.
Trailing 33-25 at the half, Stanford was booed by the crowd at Maples Pavilion. But the Cardinal scored 12 of the first 14 points of the second half, taking a 37-35 lead on Jason Collins' layup and free throw. McNair tied it for Washington State before Stanford started to pull away.
The Cardinal took a 55-45 lead on Davis' jumper with 8:58 left, but the Cougars fought back, coming as close as 58-56 on McNair's three-point basket. Ryan Mendez answered with a three-point basket for Stanford, which wasn't seriously threatened again.
The halftime "discussion" worked.
Stanford, which shot 35% in the first half, made 65% of its field goals in the second. The Cardinal has won 10 consecutive games over Washington State.
Washington State Coach Paul Graham said he told his young players not to be intimidated.
"I was very proud of the way we stayed with them and played them straight-up throughout the game," he said.
Montgomery suggested that his players probably weren't intimidated enough.
"I don't think our guys thought that Washington State could beat them," Montgomery said. "Boy, they were dead wrong."
Washington State took a 20-12 lead midway through the first half on David Adams' jumper, capping a 10-0 run.
The Cardinal closed within 20-18 on Jacobsen's running layup, but was outhustled the rest of the half, with the Cougars going up 33-25 on McNair's three-point basket with 31 seconds left.
Stanford's only loss this season came against UCLA, which trails the Cardinal by one game. Stanford plays UCLA March 3 at Pauley Pavilion.
California 82, Washington 66-- Sean Lampley had 29 points and 17 rebounds at Berkeley as the Golden Bears (18-7, 9-4) completed a season sweep of the Huskies (9-17, 3-13).
Lampley--the leading scorer in the Pac-10 this season--moved past former Phoenix Sun guard Kevin Johnson into second place on Cal's all-time scoring list. Lampley, with 1,664 points, trails only former Clipper Lamond Murray, who scored 1,688 from 1992-94.
Lampley made all eight of this shots, and the double-double was his seventh of the season and the 28th of his career.