Way back before the first meeting of the season between the Ducks and the Golden Bears, Oregon was coming off of a horrendous performance on the road against their in-state rivals Oregon State. Cal had swept Colorado and Utah at Haas Pavilion.
Then the Bears put on a poor performance in Eugene on national television and lost by three points. That performance was notable for Cal going 0-12 from three-point range and being minus-21 overall in three-pointer point differential compared to the Ducks. Aside from Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb the Bears did not get much production from the supporting cast.
The second meeting was a complete 180.
Cal throttled the 11th ranked team in the nation by 20 points on national television and this one was never close.
The Golden Bears led the contest wire-to-wire and claimed a home victory against a ranked opponent for the third time this season (Utah, Arizona).
Here's what stood out from this performance:
- Cal held Dillon Brooks, Oregon's star player, in check for the most part. He led the Ducks in scoring with 17 points, but he struggled for most of the game. He got hot a bit during the latter portion of the game, but it was already beyond reach at that point.
- Entering this contest Oregon was number one in the nation in both RPI and strength of schedule with a 20-4 record. They were ranked 11th and were blown away from start to finish by the Bears. We are scary good when we play to our full potential.
- This was a matchup of the Pac-12's two best defensive teams as Cal ranked number in points allowed, while Oregon ranked second. Cal is clearly the best defensive team in the conference. If Cal can translate this type of performance into how they play on the road then Cal can go deep into the Pac-12 tournament and March Madness.
- Brown and Jabari Bird set the tone for how this contest would play out from the opening tip. Brown hit a three-pointer on Cal's first possession and threw down an emphatic dunk following a Bird steal. Bird went 3-3 from downtown during the first five minutes of the game.
- Through 10 minutes Oregon shot 26.7% from the field on 15 shots.
- The Ducks shot 42.6% for the whole game. Keep in mind that Oregon has been held to less than 70 points just four times this season and the Bears have done it twice now.
- This Oregon team had been dominant lately as they outscored their opponents by 107 points in the 10 games since losing to Oregon State. They also ended what was the nation's longest active home win streak (49 games) when they beat Arizona a few games ago; making it all the more impressive that Cal throttled them.
- It took Oregon 13 minutes and 30 seconds to notch their first assist. Incredible defense from the Bears, particularly in the first half.
- It took Brooks almost 13 minutes to score his first points of the contest. He scored a career-high 30 points against Utah in their last game before the matchup with Cal. He was confident coming into this one and the Bears shut him down.
- Cal led 33-13 before Oregon went on an 8-2 run late during the first half. This was a pivotal stretch as Oregon had a real chance to maybe cut it down to single digits before the break, but Rabb scored a second-chance bucket from a Brown miss under the hoop to halt the run. Then Bird made a three-pointer and Sam Singer drained a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 21, the Bears' largest of the first half.
- Cal led 42-24 at halftime, but the Ducks scored six of the first eight points to start the second half. The Bears immediately responded with a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 24.
- Rabb picked up his third foul with a bit more than 14 minutes left in the second half. Cal led 54-32 and I was interested to see if Oregon would be able to go on a run in his absence, but Cal actually won the Rabb-less stretch 12-10.
- Oddly enough, it wasn't until Rabb came back on the floor that Oregon went on a run to close the deficit. Cal had trouble with Oregon's full-court press, which was a bit strange since Cal had handled it so well to that point during the game. Oregon went on an 11-2 run during this stretch.
- Cal finished the game on the front foot, though, as Rabb blocked a shot leading to a Brown layup to push the lead to 81-57. Putting a cap on two phenomenal performances, Singer fed Bird with a great pass which Bird promptly slammed home with a reverse dunk. It was a fitting finish which really summed up the entire game.
- That play established career-highs in assists (10) for Singer and points (24) for Bird. In my opinion this was Bird's best game since he scored 19 points and keyed Cal's second round NIT victory against Arkansas during his freshman season.
- Wallace was a bit rusty at times, but looked good overall considering it was his first game back after a lengthy layoff. For the most part, he did not try to do to much and fit in with the team oriented, ball movement-focused offense Cal ran for most of the game.
If the Bears keep playing like this then they are going to be extremely dangerous come March. When Bird and Matthews shoot like they have these past two games, and Singer runs the offense efficiently, and Brown maintains his aggressiveness in driving the lane and creating for others then the Bears are scary good.
Stanford found that out last week and the Ducks were the latest victim. On to Oregon State next before the Bears get another chance to grab some road wins in Washington.