Justin Cobbs, man. For 39 minutes, Cobbs had one of his toughest days in a Cal uniform. Jonathan Loyd had dominated him on defense all night long. Of his eight turnovers, most of them were forced by Loyd's quick hands. It was maddening. In a game when Cal otherwise should have controlled the offensively punchless Ducks, Cal's turnovers prevented the Bear offense from kicking into gear.
So of course the game had to end with Justin Cobbs hitting a deep two over Loyd as he went for the strip.
Cal was lucky to be in the position to hold the ball for the win. The Ducks held a three point lead with two minutes to play, and after the Thurmanator tied it on a three point play, the Ducks three times had opportunities to take the lead. They had an easy chance to play two for one, but somehow took the entire 35 seconds to get a bad look off, thus allowing Cal to hold for the final shot. And Cobbs made them pay.
This was not a fun basketball game. The only redeeming quality of the game from a neutral perspective was the final game winning shot and Arsalan Kazemi's one man effort to win Oregon the game. If you watched the entire thing, you saw about twice as many missed shots as made shots. You saw a flagrant (though unintentional) elbow from Tyrone Wallace. You saw 26 turnovers in a relatively slow game. And you saw one of the most comical reffing mishaps in my many years of watching Cal basketball.
Allen Crabbe, sitting on three fouls, was called for his forth when he cleanly batted a ball away from a Duck. Tyrone Wallace DID contact the Oregon player, and the ref did call him for a foul. But as reported by Roxy and Miles Simon on the ESPN2 call, the ref incorrectly reported the number despite Cal's protests. Crabbe received his 4th foul with 13 minutes left in the game despite doing nothing. Then, after a TV timeout, the same ref who incorrectly reported the number realized his error and retroactively changed the call. Crabbe was back in the game with three fouls, and life went on. I guess it's not as embarrassing as calling a foul on an unconscious player?
As it turned out, Crabbe wasn't a huge offensive factor in this game. Of course, nobody was. There were two players on either team that shot better than 50% from the field. One of those players had eight turnovers, and the other player basically only shoots if he can dunk the ball. That player happened to have two of the biggest baskets of the game, because for whatever reason the Thurmanator found himself open under the basket in crunch time. He took advantage, and those baskets gave Cobbs his chance to play hero.
And so Monty has swept Oregon again. I doubt the sweep happens if Oregon has a healthy Dominic Artis. On the other hand, we still don't have our talismanic Ricky Kreklow (is he really talismanic? I've decided that he might be) and Oregon was playing with a player who should have been suspended for attempting to concuss Brock Motum, so I'm not wasting any time feeling sorry for Oregon.
After four weeks of conferece play, these were the standings:
1. Oregon, 7-0
2. UCLA, 6-2
3. Arizona, 5-2
. . .
8. Cal, 3-4
1. Oregon, 10-4
2. Arizona, 10-4
3. UCLA, 9-4
4. ASU, 9-5
5. Cal, 9-5
The Bears have closed a 4 game gap to a 1 game gap in the span of three and a half weeks. They will be favored in every game left on the schedule, and they are one game behind the leaders with a record of 4-2 against the teams ahead of them. I still think Cal is the underdog, but the concept that there is a legitimate shot at the conference title is mind-numbing when a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament seemed like a pipe dream less than a month ago.
Late night edits:
CHARTS OF VICTORY
I have to imagine that it's pretty rare to go on the road against a ranked opponent, get out rebounded, turn the ball over more, commit more fouls, shoot about 40% from the field . . . and win. This was such a weird game. I know that Oregon had a good offense in the not too distant past. But can one man really kill an offense so badly with his absence? Artis doesn't have an E.J. Singler voodoo doll, does he?
Lots of credit to the Cal defense - they never gave in, and they did a good job executing zone when they were trying to avoid foul trouble. But man, Oregon couldn't shoot.
Hey, a game where a lead was almost never remotely safe! That's always novel.
Wow, the play was designed for Cobbs! And I was briefly freaked out when Brandon Smith didn't pass it to Crabbe! Silly me. On a side note, how happy are you that you didn't have to sit through five minutes of overtime torture?
Love Cobbs talking about the team picking each other up, and more specifically, him having the confidence to win the game after acknowledging the trouble he had with turnovers throughout the game. It's great to have guys that aren't afraid of the moment.