While this year's Cal Men's Basketball team has been like a box of chocolate (I may have been brainwashed by the "holiday" decorations for this past Friday), in that you never know what you're gonna get, Saturday's game saw the Bears at their best for a good stretch of the time. After allowing the Huskies (14-12, 6-7 in the Pac-12) to win the first nearly 7 minutes of the game and build up a 27-15 lead, the Bears (17-8, 8-4 in the Pac-12) finally got back to play the kind of "exciting basketball" that Justin Cobbs boasted about in his Pac-12 Networks ad. From forcing plenty of turnovers (10 in the first half), the Bears got to score via plenty of fast breaks to close out the first half with a 19-2 run.
Equally as important in what ends up being an easy win (somewhat similar the first meeting between these two teams in Berkeley), C.J. Wilcox did not have a game like Wazzu's DaVonte Lacy had against the Bears on Wednesday. C.J. Wilcox had a bad shooting night overall, scoring merely 8 points on 4 of 12 shooting, including 0 for 6 from 3's. The entire Huskies squad hit only 4 of 21 from 3-point land. The creatively named Andrew Andrews had a game high 21 points but did not hit another 3 after the initial game opening run by the Huskies.
For the Bears, Tyrone Wallace led the team statistically by putting up a line of 20 points (6 for 14 and just 1 off his career best) to go with a team high 8 boards, and 4 assists. Richard Solomon also had a great game by hitting 8 of 11 shots for 18 points to go with 7 rebounds. While Justin Cobbs only scored 10 points, he still had 7 assists for the game.
There was very little drama in the second half with the Bears stretched their 5 point lead to 9 to open the second half and just hung on. Cal was able to withstand any potential Washington run (last one came with about 7 minutes left in the game when Washington cut the lead down to 6) to cruise to a double digit victory. The Bears became the first Pac-12 team to win at Alaska Airline Arena. As the result, the Bears are now tied with Arizona State for 3rd place in the Pac and only 2 games behind Arizona (who lost to Arizona State earlier this week). Not that I necessarily believe that the Bears are good enough to be a serious contender for the Pac-12 title, but Wednesday night's home game against the current Pac-12 second place team UCLA has some added significance.
With today's win, the Bears also completed a 4 game sweep of the Washington schools for the first time since 2009. Sadly, I feel the need to point out that the earlier home sweep of the Washington schools (which was the easy win over Washington follow by the win over Washington State) has been the local maximum of the season. Bears just missed out on making it to the top 25 after that win but followed it up with that terrible USC game the following week.
One finally interesting note, Ricky Kreklow started over Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird for the second straight game. This has been apparently the 4th time this year that Mike Montgomery has gone with the starting line up of Richard Solomon, David Kravish, Justin Cobbs, Tyrone Wallace, and Kreklow. The Bears are 4-0 on the year with this lineup.
Charts of Victory
For this particular game, the Bears' wins in the turnover battle has lead to a higher eFG% thanks to the easy transition buckets. It remains to be seen whether the Bears can execute this same game plan next week against the LA schools.
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