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Cal Men's Basketball vs. USC Trojans Recap

What a dramatic game! Bears kept alive their NCAA hope by coming from behind to defeat the resurgent USC Trojans.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

With the season on the line, the Bears (16-9, 8-5) came from behind and defeated the USC Trojans (12-14, 7-6) in the last 4 minutes of the game. A gimpy Justin Cobbs hit a go ahead 3 (part of his 22 points) for the Bears. Allen Crabbe (game high 23 points to go with 10 boards) then finally got hot at just the right time to seal the game with 2 three pointers (one to regain the lead).

What this game may be remembered however, is the following:

Monty and Crabbe (originally from here)

and another extended cut from the TV broadcast [thanks to JackduhSun]:

After the sluggish Cal defense allow USC's Byron Wesley to hit a few of his 4 3-pointers made, Cal coach Mike Montgomery got very animated and shoved Allen Crabbe. Crabbe immediately got some extra words from Richard Solomon and Justin Cobbs (to try to calm him down?) before Crabbe walked away from the coach. This is how Coach Montgomery described the situation:

I respect Coach Mike Montgomery tremendously, but I think he probably went over the line a bit with his shove of Crabbe. I don't particularly think that this action is going to get blown out of proportion, since we are Cal rather than a Duke or North Carolina. Nonetheless, I find it borderline troublesome that Coach Montgomery forcibly shoved Crabbe on national TV.

It is also arguable that this action did not have the greatest positive impact on Allen Crabbe (despite what the commentators of this game would have you believe). Allen Crabbe's play actually was not any better immediately after the incident and there was a timeout or two where Crabbe clearly avoided eye contact with Monty.

However, the rest of the team really picked up both Monty and Crabbe after that incident. Led by Justin Cobbs, the Bears hung around and slowly cut into the Trojans' lead. With winning being the best cure, this incident is apparently now just "water under the bridge".

Ryan Gorcey ‏@RGBearTerritory
Crabbe: "It was coach’s way of motivating me. Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. No hard feelings."

The game started with a series of runs. After the Bears getting the first bucket, USC jumped out to a 9-0 run. Bears responded with a run of their own, holding USC scoreless in a 4+ minute stretch. David Kravish got at 3 blocks during this stretch, to go with 10 points and 9 boards for the game. Unfortunately, Haas had some issue with the clock above the baskets. This delay allowed USC to regroup and to go on a run. Bears did not help things by continuous making turnovers. USC, helped by the points off turnovers, had a 4 point lead at the half.

USC continue to build on the lead in the second half. Bears trailed by double digit when the Monty-Crabbe incident happened. A switch to zone did slowed down USC for quite a bit as they went on another scoring drought. Bears could not close the lead to less than 7, however. Justin Cobbs kept the Bears in the game with some key shots but then managed to hurt his ankle/leg and had to limp off the court. Richard Solomon also had a great part in keeping the Bears close.

Fortunately for the Bears, the solid but not great USC squad did allow the Bears to make some plays and stay in the game. Justin Cobbs returned to the court and hit a go ahead 3 to put the Bears up by 1 (and give them their first lead in quite some times with 3:26 to go). Allen Crabbe then continued the Bears onslaught with another go ahead 3 at 2:23 and a second key three to close out the Trojans, who also almost blew the game at Stanfurd on Thursday as well.

USC hit 8 3's for the game. They are lead by 17 points from J.T. Terrell and 16 points each from Jio Fontan and Byron Wesley. 7 footer Dewayne Dedmon added 9 points. Cal's bench with 3 points from Brandon Smith actually outscored the USC bench with only 2 point from Aaron Fuller.

All in all, the Bears got a much needed victory to keep their NCAA hope alive. Bears travel to Oregon next on Thursday (6 PM PT game on ESPN2) for the toughest regular season game on the schedule. In addition to the NCAA tournament hope, the Bears are merely 2 games behind the conference leading Oregon with 5 games to go (Oregon barely defeated Wazzu yesterday in OT).

Here is the Game Flow:

Chart of Victory (Bears were superior in every aspect except for TO)!

Post Game Interviews:


Crabbe and Cobbs

[Updated on Monday morning]

Official Comments by Sandy Barbour and Mike Montgomery:

From Coach Montgomery:

I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment. While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions.

From Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour:

Sunday’s game was an emotional one for everyone who cares deeply about our men’s basketball program, and the Bears certainly showed tremendous resolve coming back to earn a win over USC. However, it is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances. The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again.