Cal coach Mike Montgomery warned early in the week that Kansas’ biggest advantage Wednesday night might be its depth. The roots of Jayhawks’ 78-63 victory proved he was right.
The Jayhawks’ bench outproduced its Cal counterpart by a whopping 46 points to 11, and 23 rebounds to 10.
That’s a little misleading because Markieff Morris (21 points, 10 rebounds) was a starter the first nine games, but has come off the bench the past two, and freshman guard Josh Selby (18 points, 4 assists) remained a reserve in just his second college game but will be a starter someday . . . in the NBA.
The game was lost in a second-half span of just under 3 minutes when fouls forced both Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp to the bench. During that stretch, KU transformed a shaky 50-47 lead to 61-49. The 11-2 run took the last wind out of the Bears’ sails.
Kamp picked up his second and third fouls in a span of six seconds. Both were inadvertant fouls, simply a case of him arriving a second late.
But Gutierrez got his fourth foul on a technical with 16:19 left after wrestling with KU’s Thomas Robinson. It took both Kamp and Montgomery to drag the enraged Gutierrez from the pileup.
Montgomery was asked later if Gutierrez’s fiery approach needs tempering, or if it’s the key to his effectiveness. The answer, of course, is both.
“You’ve got to love Jorge. He’s just the best,” Montgomery said. “But he’s a stubborn son of a gun, and if you attack him he’s going to come back at you. It’s his natural reaction.
“That’s what makes him so good. But there are times you’ve got to recognize you’ve got three fouls and you can’t afford to get a fourth. He takes things personally is what he does. It’s not a bad thing, except there are times and circumstances.”
The Bears’ problems vs. the Jayhawks weren’t limited to the shortcomings of their bench:
— They shot 4 for 22 from the 3-point arc
— They missed 14 free throws
— They turned the ball over 17 times
— And in the second half, they were 7 for 28 from the floor until hitting two meaningless shots in the final minute.
The 19 for 33 effort at the foul line was particularly distressing to Montgomery.
“The free throw situation is scary because we were getting to the basket, getting foul calls and were’t getting anything out of it,” he said. “Against a team like that, you can’t do that.”