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Cal again can’t hit enough shots to earn upset win

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The Bears attempt 16 more shots than the Buffs but still fall, 68-64.

NCAA Basketball: California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Honestly though, this team is kinda amazing.

All throughout the Pac-12 season we’ve talked about how Cal can’t hit shots, nor stop their opponents from hitting shots. Sure enough, against Colorado, Cal shot an eFG% of 40.8 to Colorado’s 55.7. That’s almost identical to the massive gap between Cal’s shooting and their Pac-12 opponents all season long. An unprecedented gap in the easily searchable portion of the Pac-12’s history books.

And yet the Bears somehow almost won, and have actually found ways to be occasionally competitive against their Pac-12 foes.

I’m not trying to make a value judgment here. I’m equally aghast and impressed. Cal is historically bad at the most fundamental aspect of basketball on both ends of the floor and yet they’ve won a couple of conference games and almost stole another.

How? Well, it helps that the Pac-12 is bad this year. But it also helps that this Cal team is the best offensive rebounding MBB team I’ve ever watched, and that they draw a ton of fouls. Yes, those two skills are on some level related.

And so you already in part know the answer to the next question. How did Cal manage to stay with the Buffs despite hitting only 39% of their 2 point shots and 31% of their 3s? Mostly by hitting the offensive glass like mad men against one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the country. It’s not great to miss 38 shots, but when you can rebound almost half of your misses you’re going to hit some of your 2nd chance shots.

Cal ended up attempting 16 more shots than the Buffs thanks to +8 offensive rebounds and +6 turnovers. Cal now averages 7.3 more shot attempts per game in Pac-12 contests, a number that only USC can come close to matching. One of those teams is in the regular season title race while the other is trying to claw away from last place. Winning the shot taking battle is always good, even if it doesn’t necessary have anything to do with winning the shot making battle.

It’s at this point that I must reveal an ugly truth: Due to some cord-cutting confusion, I wasn’t able to actually watch this game. Any and all #analysis is based upon the box score and following the game on twitter. As a result, I can’t really tell you with any confidence why Justice Sueing was so off (other than the CGB curse) or how much Colorado’s turnover issues were due to our defense vs. their own inherent ball handling issues.

What I can say confidently are three things that have been increasingly evident as the season wears on:

  1. There are still few if any real signs of team offensive improvements.
  2. There are increasingly strong signs of team defensive improvements.
  3. This is still a team that tries very hard despite it all, as evidenced with all of the turnovers forced and offensive rebounds secured. Honestly, they sometimes try a little bit too hard.

If you’re still reading about basketball on this here website, that means that item #3 is enough for you. With the season 80% over, that’s going to have to be enough.