Jan. 20, 2012
California Game Notes | Washington State Game Notes (Coming Soon)
BERKELEY - The Golden Bears (16-4, 6-1 Pac-12) seek their longest winning streak of the season when Cal visits the Palouse to take on Washington State (10-8, 2-4) in a Saturday-afternoon matchup. Alone atop the Pac-12 standings, the Bears are off to their best league start since 2002-03 when Cal went 7-0 to open Pac-10 play.
The Bears have been gotten contributions from a bench that averages 17.0 ppg in the last couple of outings. Junior F Robert Thurman exploded for a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds in Cal's 69-66 win against Washington on Jan. 19, to follow a 10-point outburst by sophomore reserve Emerson Murray in an 81-45 victory over Utah on Jan. 14.
Head coach Mike Montgomery was 5-0 against Washington State in his first three years at Berkeley, but last season's 75-71 loss to the Cougars put the streak in WSU's hands. Still, Cal has prevailed in seven of its last 10 trips to the Palouse, and only has one chance to beat the Cougars, this year, as WSU will not make a return trip to the Bay Area. The last time Cal and Washington State met just once during the season was in 1961-62 when WSU took a 61-54 win in Portland, Ore.
While Cal's depth has played an important role through its current four-game streak, the Bears have ridden the coattails of a solid starting five. Sophomore G Allen Crabbe notched his third double-double of the season in the win against the Huskies with 16 points and 10 boards. Senior F Harper Kamp sank key free throws at the end of the game and has continued to put up solid numbers with 9.3 ppg and 5.0 rpg, this season. Senior G Jorge Gutierrez puts up 14.1 ppg and 5.0 rpg, this season and continues to climb the Cal career charts for points and steals.
Cal can tighten its grip on the Pac-12 race with a sweep of the Washington schools when the Bears and the Cougars meet at Beasley Coliseum.
GAME RECAP (WASHINGTON): Junior F Robert Thurman came off the bench and sparked the Golden Bears with 16 points and seven rebounds (both career highs) and sophomore G Allen Crabbe registered his second double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds as Cal secured first place in the Pac-12 on a 69-66 win over Washington. At 6-1, the Bears staked their claim to head coach Mike Montgomery's best start in league play since he arrived at Cal; the best start to conference play since the 2002-03 Bears went 7-0. The Bears led the Huskies, 35-25, at the break, and moved to 15-0 in games where they hold the halftime lead. Cal ran ahead by 10 points through a six-minute stretch during which it got eight straight points from Thurman followed by four straight by sophomore G Justin Cobbs who finished with 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Cal out-shot Washington, 50-percent to 34.5-percent in the first half, but the Huskies fought back and got to within four points, 55-51, with just under eight minutes left in the game. The Bears jumped back out to an eight-point lead, 59-51, thanks to a personal foul and a technical foul called on UW head coach Lorenzo Romar. The Huskies continued to threaten, down the stretch, and got the last shot, but Cal held on for their second Pac-12 road victory in a row.
BUILDING A CASE: Although the Pac-12 has played through the national perception that it is a weak conference this season, the Bears have climbed the ratings as the year has progressed. As of January 19, Cal was rated 17th in the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings (www.kenpom.com) and 18th in the Sagarin Ratings Index (www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/bkt1112.htm). The Bears opened the season ranked in both the AP and Coaches Top 25 polls but have been unranked for several weeks.
ONE AND DONE: Cal is only scheduled to meet Washington and Washington State, once, in the regular season due to the conference's expansion to 12 teams, this year. With the addition of Colorado and Utah, the league elected to maintain its traditional 18-game schedule and created a couple of conference home-and-home misses. Cal will only face Arizona and Arizona State at home, this year, and will only get the Huskies and Cougars on the road. Barring any postseason rematches, the Bears will face every other Pac-12 team twice; once at home, and once on the road. The last time that Cal met Washington just once in a season was in 1948-49. Cal and WSU met just once in a season back in 1961-62. The last time Cal met either Arizona (1974-75) or Arizona State (1968-69) just once was prior to their joining the then Pac-10 conference in 1978-79.
12-PAC STACK: At 6-1, the Golden Bears are off to their best start in conference games under head coach Mike Montgomery. It is also the best start to league play since Cal went 7-0 to begin the 2002-03 Pac-10 season. Under the direction of Ben Braun, that squad finished third in the conference (13-5) with a 22-9 overall record after advancing to the second round of the NCAA championships.
HANDS OF STEAL: Senior G Jorge Gutierrez leads the Bears in steals, this season, with 24, and ranks in the top 10 in the Pac-12 with 1.3 steals per game. He entered the season with 109 career steals. On Jan. 5, he collected two steals against Oregon State to push his career total to 129 and moved into a 10th-place tie with Keith Smith (1987-90). He now has 133 and is tied with Gene Ransom (1976-78) for sixth place.
1,000-POINT CLUB: Senior G Jorge Gutierrez became Cal's 40th player to reach the 1,000-point plateau on his second field goal against Oregon State on Jan. 5, 2012. He completed that game with a season-high matching 26 points. He now has 1,070 points and is in 31st place for career points at Cal. Next up: Ed Gray (1996-97) with 1,082 points in 30th, and Ryan Drew (1988-91) in 29th with 1,086 points. Gutierrez played with each of the last three Cal players to score 1,000 career points; Theo Robertson (1,315), Patrick Christopher (1,700), and the Bears' all-time scoring leader Jerome Randle (1,835).