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Cal 90, Furman 60: Jeff Powers goes off

With Ricky Kreklow and Jabari Bird out, Cal's bench stepped up with a strong performance in a warm up to Pac-12 play.

Dude can shoot
Dude can shoot

These are the types of games that make college sports great. Furman is one of the weakest teams on Cal's schedule, and there wasn't really much reason to expect compelling action. And sure enough, Cal cruised to a routine 30 point win.

But oh the journey. Redshirt senior Jeff Powers has received 21 total minutes of playing time this season and had scored just two points. He hadn't recorded double digit scoring since doing so in three straight games as a freshman in 2011 (games in which Cal played with, if I recall correctly, just four healthy scholarship guards.)

Given the opportunity, Powers has always been a solid shooter. He certainly flashed that kind of talent in an 18 point explosion. Powers missed his first three pointer with 8:19 left in the 1st half. He wouldn't miss again, sinking three deep shots in each half.

His final three triples came over four possessions in a two minute time span, and the final shot brought the Haas down. He was taken out of the game to a standing ovation a few minutes later.

Did Cal need those 18 points to beat Furman? Probably not. But it made an otherwise sleepy game memorable. Dare I say it was powerfully memorable?

Otherwise, the game went exactly as you'd expect. Cal found gaps and seams in the Paladin defense with frequency and ease. Furman struggled mightily to finish shots over Cal's much bigger defenders. Six different Bears scored 8 points or more. Richard Solomon had his way inside, at least when he wasn't committing unnecessary fouls that sent him to the bench.

The game was most interesting in part because Monty was completely willing to play deep into the bench throughout the game. At one point, he played a lineup with Sam Singer, Jordan Mathews, Tyrone Wallace, Roger Moute a Bidias, and Kameron Rooks. Yep, four freshmen and a sophomore. It didn't last long, but it was interesting to watch.

The freshmen didn't show anything particularly new, although I was happy to see Kameron Rooks challenge shooters with more confidence than he's showed in the past. His ability to at least play solid defense might be the most important development we could get from the bench. Richard Solomon and David Kravish are going to pick up fouls, and there has to be a plan for that inevitability.

Perhaps most importantly, Cal wanted to get through this game without any more injuries. It was close. Jordan Mathews briefly terrified Cal fans when he came up limping after going for a rebound, but he returned later in the game. Christian Behrens also hurt himself when his chin collided with the top of Kameron Rook's head has he came down for a rebound, and while it looked really painful, it didn't seem like something likely to be a long term issue.

Jabari Bird, as expected, didn't dress. We haven't really gotten much in terms of specific information on a potential return date. Boy, wouldn't it be wonderful to have him back in time to drop 20 on Stanford in Maples? That's probably wishful thinking, but the Bears will be back in action next Thursday to start off conference play against the Cardinal.