Junior forward David Kravish had 19 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots and Cal (5-0) won its opener at the Maui Invitational, beating Arkansas 85-77.
UPDATED: The Bears will play Syracuse in the tournament semifinals Tuesday at 4 p.m. PST on ESPN. The No. 8 Orange, who knocked Cal out of the NCAA tournament last season, improved to 5-0 with a 75-67 win over Minnesota.
Ricky Kreklow came off the bench to score 17 points, including 8 for 10 from the free throw line. Freshman Jabari Bird had 15 points, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point arc, and point guard Justin Cobbs contributed 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Richard Solomon had 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Montgomery said Kravish did a great job of finding openings in the Arkansas defense.
“Kravish had a great game,” Montgomery said. “Kind of his type of game where based on the way they were playing with quickness and getting out after it left David some lanes to the basket, and as a result, he was able to have a really nice game.”
Kravish said he was motivated to do more after Solomon got into foul trouble.
“When he goes out of the game, I feel like I really have to step it up,” Kravish said. “So when he was in foul trouble, I had to step up my game and keep playing physical, keep playing hard and grabbing every rebound, so that’s what I did.”
Cal overcame 18 turnovers — many of them early — and outrebounded the Razorbacks (3-1) by a 50-31 margin.
Montgomery said the Bears’ ability to shift successfully from man-to-man defense to zone helped keep the Razorbacks off balance.
The Syracuse 2-3 zone defense on Tuesday afternoon will provide a greater challenge, as the Bears discovered last year at the San Jose regional.
“Last year’s zone that Syracuse played, because I played them more than once, I thought it was the best zone that I’ve ever seen them play,” Montgomery said. “They had tremendous length on the perimeter and obviously the game plan, they know what they want to do.
“We’re going to have to attack it a little more intelligently. We’ll have to be more aggressive it seems. Our perimeter guys will have to be more confident with the ball trying to drive the seams. There are openings in it. We have to capitalize on those.”
Last year, Cal shot just 39 percent against the Orange, making 4 of 21 from 3-point range and turning the ball over 17 times.
“You have to be patient,” Montgomery said. “You can’t get frustrated.”