With each 20+ point win it becomes harder and harder to say something new about this team. Four times Cal has scored 70 points or more and four times Cal has held their opponent to 56 points or less. What may have changed today was the quality of opponent. Georgia isn't likely to set the world on fire this season, but they are almost certainly a step up from Austin Peay and George Washington. But that didn't stop the Bears from notching their 2nd biggest margin of victory on the season.
For 15 minutes it appeared that Cal was going to be tested by the Bulldogs. The Bears struggled just a bit offensively out of the gates, missing a number of shots inside that would typically fall. Meanwhile Georgia was doing a good job moving through screens and forcing switches around the perimeter, and it resulted in a number of open looks outside. Georgia hit 4 threes early to take slim leads on three different occasions. They would not make another three the rest of the game.
To a certain extent the 24 point final margin might have been deceptive. Georgia had a horrible shooting night, and I don't think we can give Cal all of the credit for that. There were plenty of jumpers and layups inside that the Bulldogs probably should have hit on, and that pushed the game into blowout territory that much faster. But that doesn't change the basic story line - Cal was the superior team
The four factors to winning - and Cal won each factor. Cal didn't have a huge rebounding or turnover advantage, but when a team can shoot and draw fouls as well as the Bears you really don't need a ton of help from the other two categories. This team should almost always rebound and take care of the ball well enough to support their shooting from the field and from the line
There aren't many nits to pick about a 24 point win. For the 2nd game in a row Allen Crabbe wasn't a major factor. Conventional wisdom said that Cal needs Crabbe to get his shots and points to win games. But I think it's becoming more clear that this team has 7 capable play-makers on offense. If defenses focus on taking away Crabbe (or any other Cal player, for that matter) the other four players on the court are going to be able to punish them for that. This is a very very hard team to slow down.
Justin Cobbs had a few careless, unforced turnovers. But he also led the team in assists and steals, more than making up for those mistakes. Richard Solomon had a dismal game finishing shots, but he was again active on the boards and defensively, and most importantly he went strong to the basket on multiple occasions. He's already drawing fouls, and the shots will eventually start falling.
As for positives, our senior leaders jumped out. Jorge and Harper were the two players making things happen during the sluggish start, and they were their usual, steady selves. With the depth this team has (relatively to last year) the Bears increasingly don't need a superlative individual showing from one player. It's nice to 'only' get 16 points from our leading scorer and still win going away.
We also likely learned what the rotation will be most of the time. Monty clearly felt like Georgia posed a major threat, and as a result our 8th and 9th men (Emerson Murray and Bak Bak) didn't see the floor until the game was well in hand in the 2nd half. While a seven man rotation sounds a little light, it's probably enough because I think Monty trusts each of those seven players to play 20-30 minutes at least.
I wasn't expecting a fourth blowout win, and I'm really not expecting a fifth tomorrow. Missouri looked excellent in dispatching a solid Notre Dame squad, and they will likely present some match-up issues for the Bears. But if Cal could pick up the win it would be an excellent resume win. And considering the state of the Pac-12 the Bears need as many of those as they can get. We'll have more on the Tigers tomorrow. For now, let's enjoy another easy win. Go Bears!