Nov. 22, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - California coach Mike Montgomery almost felt bad. At the very least he was apologetic.
The 70-46 beating that the No. 20 Golden Bears put on Georgia in the CBE Classic semifinals Monday night was lopsided enough. But making it even more frustrating for the young Bulldogs is that Montgomery pretty much knew what was coming.
The offense that coach Mark Fox runs is almost the exact same one that Montgomery employs.
"In all fairness to them," Montgomery said, "we knew exactly what they were going to do, because that's the same thing as my stuff."
It certainly showed at the Sprint Center.
Harper Kamp scored 16 points and Jorge Gutierrez added 14, but it was the Golden Bears' stifling defense that carried the day. Cal held the Bulldogs to 33 percent from the field, including 4 of 19 from beyond the 3-point arc, and forced 15 turnovers that turned into 17 points.
Gutierrez was the man making much of the havoc happen, coming up with just one steal but often corralling the Bulldogs into his teammates, who were there to make the clean pick.
"He just gives all his energy," said Cal freshman David Kravish, who grew up in suburban Kansas City. "He brings so much intensity that it raises everybody's level of play."
To pretty spectacular heights on Monday night.
The Golden Bears (4-0), who have matched their best start under Montgomery, will face No. 21 Missouri in a matchup of stellar backcourts in the CBE Classic title game Tuesday night.
The Tigers beat Notre Dame 87-58 in the other semifinal.
"It's a huge challenge," Montgomery said. "There might be some people that play small (in the Pac-12), but they won't have the talent of these guys."
Justin Cobbs added 10 points off the bench for California, which shot 50 percent from the field, had the edge in rebounding and assists, and still hasn't been tested this season.
The Golden Bears led UC Irvine, George Washington and Austin Peay by at least 20 early in those games, and built their lead to that much against Georgia with 13:11 left in the second half.
"They're a mature team," Fox said afterward.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 10 to lead the Bulldogs (3-1), but he shot just 4 of 13 from the field. Gerald Robinson and Nemanja Djurisic each added nine points.
The Bulldogs actually led 25-22 with about 5 minutes left in the first half when Caldwell-Pope scored on a dunk in transition and Djurisic was credited with a basket after goaltending.
Brandon Smith's only points of the first 20 minutes stopped the Bulldogs' brief flurry and began California's half-ending 14-0 run. Allen Crabbe hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, Kamp converted a three-point play and Gutierrez added another short basket.
By the time Cobbs scored just before the buzzer, California had extended its lead to 36-25.
Georgia was still within 39-29 with 17:53 left in the game after Donte Williams scored the second of his back-to-back baskets, but Kamp scored the next five points - three of them from the foul line - to start a run of 14 unanswered by the Golden Bears that put the game away.
Cobbs added a highlight-reel three-point play during the spurt, and Gutierrez's basket with 11:16 left in the game gave California a 53-29 lead and forced Georgia coach Mark Fox to call timeout.
"They were stuck on 29 points for a long time," Montgomery said.
The Bulldogs, who hit just two of their first 13 shots in the second half, never threatened the rest of the way, starting off a tough seven-game stretch with a thud.
Georgia will face Notre Dame in the third-place game Tuesday night, and then travel to Xavier and Colorado before returning home for games against Cincinnati and Georgia Tech - all before Dec. 7.
It's a schedule that should give Fox's young team, which returns just three players who have started a game in college, a chance to grow up before the SEC schedule opens Jan. 7 against Alabama.
"We're still learning what we can do and what we can't do," Fox said. "Unfortunately for this team, we have to do that in public."