The Cal men’s basketball team cruised to an 88-53 exhibition victory over UCSD on Tuesday evening at Haas Pavilion.
Player of the game: Justin Cobbs
The sophomore guard had been waiting to play for more than a year, after transferring from Minnesota. And he looked like it. Cobbs was a man on a mission. He came in off the bench in the first half and brought stability and scoring to what had been a lackluster first half offensively for the Bears. The Los Angeles native scored 17 points — 16 in the first half — and four assists. Most of his baskets were a result of him simply driving to the basket and getting fouled (and making the layups).
Highlight of the game: Air ball
It would be easy to pick the fast break dunks and alley oops that Cal provided in the first 10 minutes or so of the second half. But we’ve all seen those before. What we haven’t seen is a player, a starter no less, air ball — wait for it — a free throw. The Tritons’ Christian Hatch had a decent stat line of 14 points and seven boards, but one of the three free throws the senior center missed didn’t hit rim. An hour or so later, he air balled a midrange jumper from the baseline.
Turning point: Halftime
The Bear came out of the locker room a new team. Up only nine points at the half after trailing a good portion of it, Cal started hitting its shots on offense and stealing the ball on defense. The Bears opened the second half on a 14-2 run, which soon became a 22-4 run. UCSD committed 13 turnovers in the second half, many a result of Cal’s defense and many that turned into easy transition points for the Bears.
Stat of the game: Zero turnovers in first half
While this statistic doesn’t exactly tell the story of the first half, it is impressive nonetheless. Cal finished with seven turnovers, though many of those were committed during garbage time once the game was out of reach.
Also noteworthy was Allen Crabbe’s scoring — not the number of points but when he scored them. Last year’s Pac-10 Freshman of Year tallied a modest 14 points, but he scored 12 of them in the second half — and in a span of just over four and a half minutes. After being cold and in foul trouble in the first 20 minutes, Crabbe heated up at the 16-minute mark of the second period. All he needed was an easy fast break layup. That was followed by an and-one dunk two minutes later and a 3-pointer the following possession.
After the game, Cal coach Mike Montgomery emphasized that the team needs to not take the first shot but rather pass the ball around. Or just find Crabbe.
“We gotta get Allen Crabbe shots,” Montgomery said. “Once he gets going, he’s really good.”
- Even though it was an exhibition, Montgomery was very animated, yelling at his players when they missed defensive assignments. Montgomery could be visibly heard asking junior forward Bak Bak to “remember what I told you” at one point in the game.
- Freshman forward David Kravish made his Cal debut in the first half when he came in during a free throw. He promptly got an offensive rebound, one of four he had in the contest.
- Cobbs and fellow point guard Brandon Smith looked good when they played together, passing the ball up court to each other during transition. Montgomery mentioned after the game the possibility of playing the two guards together, along with Jorge Gutierrez at the three and Allen Crabbe at the four, for a small but fast lineup.