March 17, 2011
No. 4 seed California (18-14) at No. 1 seed Colorado (22-13)
Date: Friday, March 18, 2011
Time:6:30 p.m. PT
Location: Coors Events Center, Boulder, Colo.
Radio: KNEW 910
California (18-14) continues the National Invitational Tournament on the road in Colorado. The Golden Bears square off with the No. 1 seed Colorado Friday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. PT in Boulder, Colo. This will be the first meeting between these teams since the 2004-05 season.
Cal never trailed in its 77-74 first-round victory over Ole Miss last Wednesday. Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez led all players with 25 points, while freshman guard Allen Crabbe chipped in 20 points of his own. The Bears earned the victory despite losing senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison to a dislocated shoulder earlier in the week and junior forward Harper Kamp battling the flu. Kamp posted 11 points despite the illness.
Last week, Crabbe was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, becoming the seventh Cal player to earn the recognition and the first since Leon Powe in 2003-04. He also earned All-Pac-10 honorable-mention honors. In addition, Gutierrez was named to the All-Pac-10 first team the Pac-10 defensive team and the USBWA All-District team, while Kamp made the All-Pac-10 second team, and also the NABC all-district second team.
With the win over Stanford on March 5 to end the regular season, Cal won its last four regular-season games for the second year in a row. Last year was the first time Cal accomplished the feat since 1993. In addition, Cal has won at least 10 conference games three years in a row now for just the second time (2001-03) since Pete Newell was head coach.
Becoming a much bigger factor on offense this season, Gutierrez, who is known more for his defensive capabilities, has upped his points per game average by just over nine points (9.1 ppg) from last season compared to this season. Still the tenacious defender, Gutierrez has posted four steals in three of the last four games, and now ranks seventh on Cal's single-season steals list with 54.
Crabbe's success has been critical to the team's overall success, as well. After suffering a concussion last month, Crabbe has averaged 19.6 ppg in the six games since he's returned to action. In addition, Crabbe has posted at least 20 points in the last four consecutive contests. He is also one three-pointer away from the school's freshman record.
Cal is participating in the NIT for the seventh time and owns an 12-5 record in the event after Wednesday's victory over Ole Miss. The Bears won the championship in 1999 and reached the quarterfinals in both 1987 and 2000. Cal's NIT berth in 1986 marked the school's first postseason appearance since the NCAA runner-up squad of 1960, although the Bears made a first-round exit. Most recently, Cal reached the second round in 2008 after defeating New Mexico in the first round at Haas Pavilion.