Cal 68, UCSB 59: Bears Back On Track With Routine Win

USA TODAY Sports

Behind balanced scoring, the Bears cruised to a win that wasn't as close as the final score indicated

Honestly, there's not a ton to take away from this game. Cal was clearly the better team, and the game played out that way with little intrigue or variation. In a strange way, it seemed like Cal played knowing that they were the better team, and that they only needed to put in a B effort to cruise to the win.

Four players finished the game in double figures, and every player that entered the game ended up scoring. When Robert Thurman can get whatever he wants inside (he probably could have had 20 if Monty wanted to play him 35 minutes) you know that it's going to be a good day for the Bears.

And yet Cal only won by 9 points. To be fair, Cal went up 20 points about 8 minutes into the 2nd half and maintained that lead until their were 5 minutes left in the game, so there's no reason to fret over it. But I doubt that Monty was particularly pleased with Cal's defensive effort, and it will probably give him fodder during practice this week.

Easily the most frustrating aspect of Cal's defense was on the perimeter. UCSB shoots threes a lot. To be specific, 41.6% of the time, 21st most in the country. They actually shot slightly more threes than average against Cal. That's bad. Cal faced a team looking to take a ton of threes, and Cal was unable to force them to take different shots - shot they would prefer to avoid.

The good news is that when UCSB elected to not shoot a three, they were pretty bad. 25% from inside the arc is pretty terrible. I was hoping that the plan was to let them live or (hopefully) die from behind the arc and take away everything else. So this quote was kind of a downer:

We did emphasize trying to keep them from getting the three and they still got 13 of them which we thought was the only way they could beat us. They ended up getting some pretty good shots.

Either way, UCSB stayed close only because they made 13 three pointers. Luckily Cal was so much better in every other phase of the game that the long range barrage will end up being a foot note rather than the lead.

It wasn't all doom and gloom. Cal's offense looked pretty darn good considering that Allen Crabbe had another rough night from the field. The Bears were active on the glass all night. They came out ahead in each of the four factors, which of course means . . .

CHART OF VICTORY

Cal allowed a few more offensive rebounds than we'd all prefer, but that's partly a function of UCSB taking so many 3s, with tend to have longer rebounds that are picked up more frequently by the offense. And for a nice change of pace, only 23 total fouls were called on both teams.

Various observations:

-Tyrone Wallace has Allen Crabbe's rebounding gene, which is pretty exciting since Crabbe has 2 inches and 25 pounds on the freshman. I don't know if Monty will consider playing 4 out, 1 in this year, but if he does Cal should be able to hold their own on the defensive glass because Crabbe, Wallace and Kreklow are all above-average rebounders for guards/wings.

-While we're on the subject of Tyrone, congrats to him for his first career start and his first career double double! I wasn't necessarily expecting either today, but I'm not really surprised either. In his post-game presser, Monty said that Wallace is 'probably a point,' which . . . we just got 10 rebounds from a point guard? Weird.

-Six assists for Ricky Kreklow in just 18 minutes? That's some impressive passing from the wing. Many have commented that Ricky was visibly limping after the game. The way I interpreted the Chron article about the situation is that playing basketball is going to be painful for Ricky for the next few weeks, and he's basically just decided that he's willing to play through it. I can't say it doesn't make me a little nervous, but I guess there's no reason to suspect that anything unexpected happened to his foot against UCSB.

So. A win is a win, and it was nice to see the rotation get stretched a bit with Christian Behrens getting some decent minutes. With Prairie View A&M (who lost to UCLA by 42) next on the schedule, the bench should get an even deeper run. Cal really should close out the non-conference season with two straight wins, and use the next two weeks to iron out whatever kinks they can before travelling down to LA to start the conference schedule.

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