Well, that was a tough watch, but the California Golden Bears managed to use an early run against the Oregon Ducks to abet them to an 85-77 victory. It moves Cal to 5-4 in the Pac-10 and (for the moment) puts them right above the middle of the fray in the conference.
Let's be frank. From an aesthetic standpoint, this game sucked. There were 49 fouls called and 20 free throws missed, leading me to believe that Pac-10 refs were betting the over before this one. There were 33 assists and 27 turnovers combined by both the Golden Bears and the Ducks. Sloppy play and struggles dealing with opposing zone defenses really made this a tough watch.
But it wasn't just the officiating. Our team was a little off. Brandon Smith got a beautiful steal and dribbled it off his foot as he went up for the layup. Allen Crabbe had five turnovers as he struggled coping with the zone defense, although he was nails from outside. Jorge Gutierrez hit no shots from the outside...and then nailed the biggest shot of the game and made the biggest pass. Cal shot 62% in the first half and cratered to 35% in the second. With Harper Kamp struggling with fouls and Markhuri Sanders-Frison getting double-teamed at will, the Bears managed to hold off the scoring of Malcolm Armstead and Joevan Catron in the second half by shooting 23 free throws and making almost all of them down the stretch. Oh, those Bears.
But it's good to know after this sweep of the Oregon schools that Cal can win pretty and they can win ugly. They're going to have to do a lot of the latter the rest of the season if they want to make a run at the tourney.
This is the postgame thread; recap coming tomorrow morning.