The math doesn’t seem to work on this: Cal makes one 3-point basket and scores 84 points.
In fact, the Bears had 81 points before Allen Crabbe made their only 3-pointer of the night, with 10.8 seconds left in their 86-84 loss at UCLA on Thursday night.
Cal’s 1-for-5 effort from deep — 20 percent — ranks among the four worst of the season. The Bears were 0 for 9 vs. San Diego State, 4 for 22 (18.2 percent) vs. Kansas and 2 for 10 (20 percent) vs. Washington.
That’s a combined 6 for 41 in those three games, and the result was Cal averaged 63.7 points in three losses by an average margin of 18.7 points.
So how the Bears hang with UCLA in a high-scoring game?
– First, unlike last season, this team does not live and die by the 3-pointer. With Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison, the Bears are an inside-out team. They got a little break Thursday night when (very) big Joshua Smith went out of the game after falling hard to the floor, but Cal began the game by attacking inside. That’s their approach, and when it works it allows the perimeter game — and especially Crabbe — to function more effectively.
– Second, UCLA was terrible defensively. Cal shot 72 percent (18 for 25) in the second half, mostly because it made 13 layups, dunks or putbacks. In the first half, all 11 of the Bears’ field goals were up close and personal, but they shot only 44 percent because they hadn’t yet figured out the Bruins were incapable of stopping them at the rim. “Cal scored too easily on us,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
The Bears’ first jump shot basket was a 15-footer by Brandon Smith with 12:33 left in the game. All told, Cal made just five shots beyond two feet — the last four by Crabbe.
Things got a little frenzied at the finish so my play-by-play sheet, which normally reflects all made and missed shots, does not account for two misses by the Bears in the second half.
But I know that five of them came in the first 10 minutes of the half, meaning that Cal missed no more than two shots in the final 10 minutes of the game while scoring 36 points in a span of barely 9 1/2 minutes.
You can’t do that with a steady diet of perimeter shots.