The Golden Bears aren’t exactly full of themselves after posting a pair of wins over the L.A. schools at home to open the Pac-12. After all, they were just two more home victories for a team that is now 11-0 at Haas Pavilion.
Now the Bears try again away from home, where they are 1-3 (1-1 on a neutral floor, 0-2 on an opponent’s court). Cal plays Thursday night at Oregon State, whom they have dominated in recent years. But the Beavers are more anxious than ever to prove they’re a different team this season after a 10-2 non-conference record was dented by an 0-2 start to the Pac-12.
“Coach told us, `You guys haven’t done anything on the road yet.’ He told us straight out,” junior guard Brandon Smith said. “As far as I’m concerned, we haven’t won a game on the road. So I think this will be a big step, these two games. We’ve got to climb over that hump.”
The Bears may get sophomore forward Richard Solomon back for the Beavers or Oregon on Sunday afternoon. Solomon was on the team plane Wednesday afternoon, and Montgomery said Monday he wouldn’t travel if there was no way he’d play.
So maybe the Bears’ top rebounder will play after missing four games with a stress reaction in his left foot.
Either way, Smith said the Bears’ confidence is growing.
“UCLA was picked to be No. 1 in the conference and due to a bunch of stuff they didn’t really have a great preseason. But they’re still UCLA,” Smith said.
“To handle them in the fashion we did, I think it sent a statement to us that, `You know what guys, we’re real contenders. We’re not a bunch of pretenders just hoping to get this done.’ We can (win) if we stay focused and execute.”
ABOUT THE BEAVERS: Under fourth-year head coach Craig Robinson, the Beavers went 10-2 prior to the start of conference, their best start since 1989-90. OSU then lost 95-80 at Washington and 81-76 at Washington State to open the Pac-12 . . . The Beavers have started the same lineup all 14 games . . . Junior SG Jared Cunningham, formerly of San Leandro HS, leads the Pac-12 in scoring (17.0 ppg) and steals (2.9 spg). In November, Cunningham scored 35 points in a win over Hofstra, then 37 in an overtime victory over Texas three days later. “Cunningham’s a good player,” Montgomery said. “He’s explosive. He’s hard to guard. He’s so explosive the first step. He gets to the basket and rises up, He’s had huge games — he’s somebody you have to pay attention to.”
OSU has switched from its steady diet of 1-3-1 zone defense to playing primarily man-to-man. “They’ll use the 1-3-1 zone some. I think (Robinson) is trying to establish them as a man team. That’s different,” Montgomery said. “He’s got different personnel. They play big. They’re physical.” . . . The Beavers lead the conference in scoring (82.6 ppg), field-goal percentage (.494), steals (10.1) and turnover margin (plus-4.4) but are 10th in scoring defense (68.1).
THE SERIES: Cal leads 77-59 and has won seven of the past 10, and 29 of the past 34 meetings. The Bears won 87-76 last season at OSU in the most recent meeting. Allen Crabbe scored 26 points in that game and Jorge Gutierrez added 14 points and nine assists. In the Bears’ 85-57 win at Berkeley, Gutierrez had 16 points and 11 assists.
MISCELLANY: Cal is hoping to start 3-0 in the conference for the first time since 2008-09 — Mike Montgomery’s first season — when it opened 4-0 in the Pac-10, then finished 11-7 . . . Jorge Gutierrez needs three points to become the 40th Cal player to reach 1,000 for his career.
TIPOFF: 7 p.m. Thursday at Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (12-3, 2-0 Pac-12)
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||So.||15.9||5.7|
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Sr.||9.3||5.3|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||Fr.||5.9||5.9|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Sr.||13.9||5.1|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||So.||12.4||4.6*|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Jr.||4.3||3.2*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-10||So.||6.6||6.9|
|F Bak Bak||6-8||Jr.||2.1||1.5|
Oregon State (10-4, 0-2 Pac-12)
|C Angus Brandt||6-10||Jr.||9.6||2.9|
|PF Joe Burton||6-7||Jr.||9.3||6.5|
|SF Devon Collier||6-7||So.||12.8||4.6|
|SG Jared Cunningham||6-4||Jr.||17.0||3.4|
|PG Ahmad Starks||5-9||So.||13.0||2.7*|
|G Roberto Nelson||6-3||So.||10.4||3.0|
|F Eric Moreland||6-10||Fr.||4.9||6.9|
|G Challe Barton||6-3||Fr.||2.5||0.6|