TIPOFF: 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Coors Events Center, Boulder, Colo. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
Stanford’s 74-50 rout of Colorado on Thursday provided no game plan for the Bears to follow Sunday.
The Cardinal stampeded the Buffaloes with size and depth. Stanford’s length bothered CU near the basket, and its depth made sure that the mile-high elevation was no issue. Throw in an uncharacteristically terrific shooting night by the Cardinal, and it was a rout.
“That’s not indicative. That doesn’t mean anything,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said Saturday. “Stanford comes out and just lights it up. Are they going to do that every day? If they do, they’re conference champs. They obviously don’t do that.”
Montgomery knows the Buffs — 13-2 at home — will be much tougher Sunday.
And the Bears don’t’ have Stanford’s size or depth, so they will need to win the game on their terms in order to sneak one-half game in front of Washington atop the Pac-12 standings.
Fatigue could be a concern. Cal’s starters are averaging nearly 35 minutes per game over the past three outings, simply because Montgomery cannot afford to go to his bench for long spurts.
“Depth is a little bit of an issue for us. It’s going to catch up to you at some point,” he said. “In key games, we’re playing guys 36 minutes-plus. That can wear on you a little bit.”
In particular, Montgomery worries that sophomore Allen Crabbe has tired legs. He went without a field goal at Utah for the first time in his Cal career, and is shooting 7 for 20 the past three games.
“They worked hard at taking him out. Played a box and one to start, sort of,” Montgomery said. “He’s been battling fatigue where he’s not getting much lift, and that’s hurt him. He’s not rising up and shooting the ball. There’s some soreness there.”
Cal actually beat the Buffaloes in Berkeley despite an off-game from not only Crabbe but also Jorge Gutierrez. The team’s top two scorers combined to go 4 for 26 and Cal won 57-50 despite shooting 35 percent as a team.
“We couldn’t have shot it worse at our place, and still won. They weren’t able to score, either,” Montgomery said. “It could be a real scuffle out there if neither team shoots the ball well.”
The Bears won the first one because they defended better than a team that makes its living on defense. CU converted just 32 percent, was 5 for 19 from the 3-point line and had 17 turnovers.
Cal’s path to the Pac-12 title likely requires wins at Colorado and Stanford. Montgomery knows it won’t be easy, but he has no complaints with the performance he’s gotten from his squad.
“We’ve done what we needed to do,” he said. “My goodness, we’re 23-6, 13-3. I don’t know if anybody would have expected that.”
ABOUT THE BUFFALOES: CU shot just 21 percent in the first half vs. Stanford, but has been very good at the Coors Events Center. The Buffs are 32-4 at home the past two seasons. Colorado presents a balanced offense, solid depth and very sound defense. “They’re obviously better at home,” Montgomery said. “The thing the other night (against Stanford) hurt them because they’ve still got to go to Oregon, Oregon State, which is going to be tough for them.” CU is two games back of c0-leaders Cal and Washington with three games left.
RED-HOT FORWARDS: Harper Kamp and David Kravish are playing the best basketball right now. Kamp is providing 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds the past five games while Kravish, a freshman, is averaging 11.2 points and 9.0 rebounds over that span. “Harper is a tough guard for people because he’s never in one place. He can make a 17-footer, he can drove on you. He’s very smart in terms of knowing where to be,” Montgomery said. “We’ve gotten great mileage out of that, considering we lost Richard (Solomon).”
THE SERIES: Cal leads 10-8. The teams are 5-5 the past 10 meetings. Cal won 57-50 at Berkeley last month, but CU beat the Bears 89-72 at Boulder last season in the second round of the NIT.
MISCELLANY: A victory would not only keep the Bears on pace to win their second conference title in three seasons, it would give them 14 Pac-12 wins — equaling the most in school history. Cal won 14 conference games in 1956-57 and ’58-59, capturing the Pacific Coast Conference both seasons . . . A 24th overall victory would equal the fifth-most in school history.
Cal (23-6, 13-3 Pac-12)
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||So.||15.2||5.8|
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Sr.||11.0||5.1|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||Fr.||6.7||5.7|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Sr.||13.5||5.3|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||So.||12.9||4.9*|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Jr.||3.3||2.2*|
|C Robert Thurman||6-10||Jr.||3.9||1.8|
|F Bak Bak||6-8||Jr.||2.0||1.4|
Colorado (18-9, 10-5 Pac-12)
|PF Austin Dufault||6-9||Sr.||11.1||4.7|
|PF Andre Roberson||6-7||So.||11.1||11.3|
|SG Spencer Dinwiddie||6-5||Fr.||10.5||3.8|
|SG Carlon Brown||6-5||Sr.||12.1||3.6|
|PG Nate Tomlinson||6-3||Sr.||5.8||3.3*|
|G Askia Booker||6-1||Fr.||9.2||3.1|
|C Shane Harris-Tunks||6-11||So.||2.9||2.1|
|G Sebastian Chen||6-4||Jr.||2.4||1.1|