If the Cal offense against San Jose State was poetry in motion, the 1st half against Jackson State was more akin to a dirty limerick. It was no great surprise that Richard Solomon didn't start, but Allen Crabbe was also on the bench when this one tipped off. (late to a shootaround) Without our best outside shooter, the Bears' perimeter game and offensive execution were noticeably affected. Although Kamp carried Cal early, it was tied at 7-all before Crabbe checked in and put the Bears up with a 3-pt play at the 11 minute mark. Bak chipped in with consecutive scores, but it was still only 17-15 Cal with 7 and change to play. Then Richard Solomon checked in and the game changed. Perhaps inspired by Solo's return to the court, the Bears ramped up their intensity on both ends. Murray and Crabbe hit 3's while Cobbs got a big steal and turned it into free throws. Solo had a big block and ran the floor for a layup. When the horn sounded, the Bears had used a 14-4 run to end the half up 31-19.
Although the outside shots weren't falling easily, the defense held the line and forced 10 first half Jackson State turnovers. Meanwhile, the Bears scored 14 of their 31 points in the paint.
The 2nd half started just as the 1st half ended. Instead of playing at Jackson State's more deliberate tempo, the Bears fed off their swarming defense to push the ball at every opportunity. Unselfish play in the transition game fueled a 16-2 run and Cal never looked back. With almost a 30 point lead, Monty was able to play Murray and Bak for extended minutes in the second half. Bak responded with a season-high 10 points and showed off a nice shooting touch along the baseline. If he can continue to build confidence and work on his hands, it would really help to shore up our frontline rotation.
It might not have been the prettiest of games from the start, but the end result was still all Cal, 73-46. Allen Crabbe led all scorers with 17 points. Jorge had a strong all-around game with 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Monty is clearly still evaluating different combinations of players on the floor to see how to adjust his offense. What's been a pleasant surprise is how consistently the Bears have performed on defense. It was an unknown heading into the year whether we'd have the horses to play man. Now, it looks like our man defense might very well be one of the team's strengths. After four days of rest, our defense will have its hands full when the nation's leading scorer, Damian Lillard, and the Weber State Wildcats come to town. Anyone else think Jorge will be ready for him? Go Bears!