Dec. 30, 2011
BERKELEY - The Golden Bears (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12) seek their first 2-0 start in conference games since head coach Mike Montgomery's first season on campus in 2008-09, when UCLA (7-6, 0-1) visits Haas Pavilion for a New Year's Eve matinee clash on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 1 p.m. PT.
Cal is undefeated in home games, this season (10-0), and has distanced itself from the competition in those victories. The Bears average 21.8 more points per game and 8.8 more rebounds per game than visiting opponents. Cal also out-shoots Berkeley-bound foes by a .506 to .359 margin.
The Bears have won three of the last five meetings against UCLA including a thrilling 76-72 overtime win on Feb. 20, last season. The Bruins were selected to finish first in the Pac-12 by voting media members, who also picked Cal to finish second. UCLA started the season with a 2-5 record, but had since gone on a five-game win streak before Stanford put a stop to it with a 60-59 win in the teams' Pac-12 opener.
UCLA is buoyed by senior G Lazeric Jones who puts up 14.2 ppg and ranks 29th in the nation with 2.4 steals per contest. Sophomore C Josh Smith is a preseason Wooden Award watch-list player and has averaged 9.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg, this year.
The Bears have three players who average double digits in point production. Sophomore G Allen Crabbe ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 15.6 ppg. Senior G Jorge Gutierrez is second on the squad with 13.7 ppg, followed by sophomore G Justin Cobbs (12.4 ppg). Gutierrez is just four steals away from cracking Cal's top 10 all-time career list and has also done a consistent job on the boards with 5.2 rpg.
Up front, Cal boasts a front line that features senior F Harper Kamp and his 9.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg. Freshman F David Kravish has also been a consistent force with 5.4 ppg and 6.2 rpg. Cal leads the conference in free-throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage and is holding opponents to a league-best 38.8 percent shooting, from the floor.
GAME RECAP (USC): Sophomore G Allen Crabbe sank three crucial free-throws in the closing seconds to lift the Golden Bears to a four-point victory, 53-49, over USC in their Pac-12 opener. Cal moved to 7-3 in its last 10 league-opening games and pushed its record in home games to 10-0, this season. Crabbe finished with 12 points and four rebounds and was perfect from the charity stripe (5-5 FT). Senior F Harper Kamp scored eight of the first 12 points for the Bears who led by as many as 16 points with 13:36 left in the game. But a furious Trojan comeback closed the gap to one point at 50-49 before Crabbe sealed the Cal victory. Senior G Jorge Gutierrez led the team with 13 points to go with seven boards and a game-high seven assists. Gutierrez also had four steals to put him within four of cracking Cal's top 10 for all-time career steals chart. Sophomore G Justin Cobbs threw in nine points to go with four rebounds and three assists as the Bears improved to 11-3, this season. For the Trojans, Maurice Jones led the comeback effort and finished with 17 points and four assists. USC's seven-foot sophomore F Dewayne Dedmon was a force in the middle with eight points and four rebounds and had a key block at the end of the game that nearly gave the Trojans a chance for the win or a tie.
A LITTLE HOME COOKIN': The Bears' have enjoyed repeated success at Haas Pavilion, this season, where they are 10-0. Cal is 29-3 in non-conference home games under head coach Mike Montgomery. Last year, the Bears completed the 12th season in Haas Pavilion since its 1999 renovation. Since Haas officially re-opened, Cal is 170-58 in home games on Pete Newell Court. In 2009-10, the Bears won all but one game at home. This year, Cal is outscoring opponents by 21.8 points in home games and grabbing 8.8 more rebounds than visitors to Haas Pavilion. The Bears also hold a considerable edge in shooting percentage with a .506 mark against the visitors' .359 percentage.
FRIENDLY FOES: Cal is 645-659 (.495) in all-time conference games. Head coach Mike Montgomery is 35-20 (.636) in his time with the Bears. Overall, Montgomery has won over 320 league games as a collegiate head coach. The Bears are 7-3 in their last 10 league-openers, and experienced their best start under Montgomery's direction in his first season (2008-09) when they went 4-0 with wins over Arizona (69-55), Arizona State (81-71), Washington State (57-50), and Washington (88-85, 3OT).