Many milestones sum up the Cal basketball team’s kowtow to Missouri Tuesday night. The Bears’ worst loss in 106 games under head coach Mike Montgomery. Fourth-worst loss since 1937. Worst non-conference loss ever.
Missouri, ranked just a spot below No. 20 Cal, steamrolled the Bears in the final of the CBE Classic in Kansas City, Mo. The Tigers ran out a 19-point, first-half lead at the Sprint Center, cruising to a 92-53 win to over a Cal team (4-1) plagued by sloppy turnovers and fouls.
With another down year for the Pac-12 on the horizon, Mizzou is one of the few ranked teams Cal will play in the regular season — if not the only one. In what may the stiffest test on the schedule, the Bears didn’t look like they spent much time studying.
Before tipoff, famed commentator Dick Vitale raved about Missouri guard Marcus Denmon. Quickness off the dribble, deadly in the lane, the total package. Denmon backed up the talk almost immediately.
One night after dropping 26 points on Notre Dame, the All-Big-12 first teamer paced the Tigers (5-0) with a balanced performance, logging 18 points, four assists and two rebounds in 20 minutes. He earned the tournament MVP award.
The first half also showed off the talents of senior Steve Moore. The 6-foot-7, 267-pound center scored a career-high 10 points in the first half before his hometown crowd, tossing in a three as two early fouls strapped starting forward Ricardo Ratcliffe to the bench.
Missouri feasted on Cal’s carelessness, converting 21 turnovers into 23 points. The unofficial home team only gave the ball away 11 times, and didn’t cough it up once until halfway through the first half.
Cal’s uncharacteristic shooting woes also gave the Tigers’ win margin a healthy boost. The Bears entered the game shooting 50.9 percent from the field, but mustered an anemic 31.5 percent against Mizzou’s full-court pressure defense.
Starting Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez drew his second offensive foul of the game — his team’s fourth — with 6:16 left in the first half, raising his hands in disbelief as he headed to the bench. He fouled out with 11:32 left in the game, his fifth offense coming when he shoved Missouri guard Michael Dixon after the whistle.
Only two Bears scored in double digits, and each needed 10 shots to do so. Backup guard Cobbs scored 10 on 3-of-10 shooting, while Gutierrez netted 4-of-10 from the field for 11 points.
Reigning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Allen Crabbe struggled mightily, scoring six points on 1-of-7 shooting. Crabbe, arguably the most talented player on the roster, remains more of a spot-up shooter. The Los Angeles native still does not assert himself in the paint; he took his first free throw of the season on Friday night, finishing 3-of-4 from the line. He is the only Cal starter who has attempted fewer than 15 free throws.
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