Dec. 20, 2011
BERKELEY (AP) - Justin Cobbs provided another solid scoring effort for California. The sophomore transfer got a chance to flex his defensive skills a little bit, too.
With the Golden Bears playing without their top defender and second-leading scorer, Jorge Gutierrez, who was sidelined with a stomach illness, Cobbs picked up the slack, and then some.
Cobbs scored a season-high 25 points and held NBA prospect Orlando Johnson under double digits for only the second time in three years as California beat UC Santa Barbara 70-50 in the Pete Newell Classic on Monday.
"It shows that we have other weapons on the team," said Allen Crabbe, who added 19 points and six rebounds for the Bears (10-2). "Once (we) realized Jorge wasn't going to be able to suit up, everybody got it in their head that they were going to have to step up. Justin did a great job."
Johnson went into the night third in the nation in scoring at 22.4 points a game but finished 4 of 13 from the floor and was held to a season-low nine points. It's only the second time in 71 games at UCSB that Johnson has failed to score at least 10.
Normally, it would have been Gutierrez defending Johnson. But he and two other teammates woke up Monday morning ill, forcing Cal coach Mike Montgomery to alter his plans.
Cobbs then made it work in front of nearly a dozen NBA scouts who were on hand to watch Johnson, the Gauchos' 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard.
"Justin was spectacular," said Montgomery, who rarely offers such high praise of his players. "We did get help for him occasionally ... but Justin took the challenge and it was good to see."
Cal, which made a season-high 11 3-pointers, built a comfortable early lead, then scored 18 unanswered points in the second half to remain unbeaten this season at Haas Pavilion.
UCSB (5-4) has dropped two straight since coach Bob Williams tied the school record for career wins.
"It's demoralizing," Williams said. "It was a really poor performance on our part. Our lack of discipline offensively is really glaring."
Cobbs, who moved into the Bears starting lineup two weeks ago, went 10 of 12 from the floor to surpass his previous career high of 22 points. He made three 3's, including a 35-foot heave as the shot clock expired to give Cal a 68-44 lead.
Cobbs also provided the bulk of defense against Johnson despite being three inches shorter and 15 pounds lighter. Johnson, considered a potential first-round pick, missed his first four shots and didn't score until more than 12 minutes were gone.
By then the Gauchos were down by 14 and well on their way to a ninth consecutive loss to the Bears.
"Jorge's a great defender and watching him every day in practice, just learning the little things that he does ... that helped me tonight," Cobbs said. "Orlando's a good player so just take away his space and make him shoot tough shots."
Earlier in the day, Cal announced leading rebounder Richard Solomon would be sidelined for at least two games with a possible stress fracture in his left foot.
David Kravish filled in for Solomon and had seven points and nine rebounds for Cal, which has one more tuneup before opening the Pac-12 portion of its schedule on Dec. 29 against Southern California.
The Bears have won four straight, all by 20 points or more. They led by 26 against the bigger but slower Gauchos, who are in the midst of a five-game road trip and have lost back-to-back games against Pac-12 teams.
Even without Gutierrez and Solomon, Cal had no problem getting its offense going early. The Bears made four of their first five 3-pointers, grabbed an early 12-point lead and took a 37-23 lead into the half.