Tag: Justin Cobbs


California falls to Stanford, failing to build on Saturday’s big win

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Having lost three straight games entering Saturday’s home game against No. 1 Arizona, California had an opportunity to not only grab a resume-building victory but also right the ship ahead of the stretch run. And the Golden Bears did just that, with Justin Cobbs’ fadeaway with nine tenths of a second remaining giving Cal the 60-58 victory. On Wednesday night, with rival Stanford in Berkeley, Cal had a chance to keep the momentum rolling while temporarily moving into sole possession of second place in the Pac-12.

The Golden Bears failed to take advantage of the opportunity however, coming out lethargic against Stanford and the Cardinal were willing to grab control of the action. The end result: an 80-69 Stanford victory, with Dwight Powell (22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists) playing well defensively against a Cal front court that was coming off of an very good night against Arizona.

Chasson Randle added 19 points and Anthony Brown 16, with Josh Huestis tallying nine points, five rebounds and four steals for the visiting Cardinal. Outside of a loss at Oregon State (which beat UCLA on Sunday) Johnny Dawkins’ team doesn’t have any glaring defeats on its resume, which could set them up for a run at the first NCAA tournament berth of Dawkins’ tenure in Palo Alto.

As for Cal David Kravish finished Wednesday’s game with 12 points and six rebounds, but Richard Solomon (1-for-7 FG) accounted for just six points and nine rebounds with Powell being a big reason why. To be fair Solomon wasn’t alone in his struggles, as Bears other than Kravish, Cobbs and Wallace (57 total points) combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field. Foul shooting was also an issue, with Cal making just 12 of its 21 attempts and being outscored by 16 points (Stanford made 28 of its’ 35 attempts) on the night.

Cal scored 34 points in the paint and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, but the free throw disparity and the fact that Stanford was able to score 21 points off of 13 Golden Bear turnovers resulted in a fourth defeat in the last five games. The problem for much of the current stretch has been consistency, especially when it comes to shot selection. It’s February and there are still times in which players struggle with understanding the difference between being aggressive and forcing things that aren’t there.

After beating an Arizona team that will be without Brandon Ashley for the remainder of the season, Cal looked to be headed in the right direction with a chance of climbing back into the Pac-12 title race should the Wildcats slip up. But in order to do that the Golden Bears need to take care of business at home, something that didn’t happen against Stanford.

Justin Cobbs hands No. 1 Arizona their first loss (VIDEO)

Justin Cobbs

Justin Cobbs drove left off of a ball-screen, getting Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski to switch onto him before hitting a step-back 15-footer with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to give the Bears a win they so-desperately needed over the previously-undefeated, No. 1 Wildcats, 60-58.

Cobbs finished with 19 points and seven assists for the Bears, who entered the game having lost three in a row following a 5-0 start to Pac-12 play. That included an embarrassing loss at USC and an overtime loss to Arizona State at home on Thursday night.

source:  The importance of this win goes well beyond Cal simply moving up the Pac-12 standings, however. This is a team that was sitting on the wrong side of the bubble. Entering the day, Cal’s resume included zero wins over probably tournament teams unless you think Oregon, who is sitting at 3-6 in the Pac-12 as of today, will be able to turn things around.

If you’re looking to improve an NCAA tournament resume, there isn’t a much better way to do it than beating the No. 1 team in the country.

Here’s the other part of it: Cal is a dangerous basketball team.

The Bears are trending towards sneaking into the tournament as a 12 seed, assuming they can find a way to consistently beat the teams they are supposed to beat, but this is a team with the talent to make the Sweet 16. Cobbs headlines a really talented perimeter attack that includes a trio of big, athletic scorers — Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews and Ty Wallace. Throw in Richard Solomon and David Kravish, and you’re looking at a team that can matchup with anyone from a talent perspective.

But the Bears have no depth, especially in their front court. And Bird, Mathews and Wallace all have proven that the only thing they can do on a consistent basis is to play inconsistently.

Cal may only play three more tournament teams the rest of the season: UCLA and Colorado at home and Arizona on the road. This was the best chance that the Bears were going to get at earning a marquee win, and they capitalized.

Can they now avoid another costly loss?

Is Cal the second-best team in the Pac-12?

Grant Gibbs, Jabari Bird
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We know Arizona sits at the top of the Pac-12 Power Rankings right now.

That much is obvious. They’re the No. 1 team in the country, and the Pac-12 doesn’t currently have anyone else sitting in the top 20. That’s not a tough one to figure out.

What is tough, however, is trying to determine just who is the second-best team in the league.

In the preseason, the consensus seemed to be Colorado. They have been trending upwards for a couple of years and brought back the core of a team that, on paper, looked like a top 15 team. Wins over Kansas and Oregon helped solidify that logic. But they lost star point guard Spencer Dinwiddie for the season with a torn ACL over the weekend and collapsed in the second half against Washington after Dinwiddie went down.

Oregon is talented and fun to watch. They can score with the best of them. They also haven’t played a lick of defense in the new year. The same can be said for UCLA. Can you trust a team to win games if you can’t trust them to get big stops?

That brings me to Cal, who is the only team other than Arizona currently sitting at 4-0 in league play. The Bears beatdown Washington in Haas Pavilion on Wednesday night after winning their first three Pac-12 games on the road.

Most importantly, the Bears are finally getting healthy after dealing with injuries to a number of key players early in the season. Their perimeter attack is loaded. Justin Cobbs is a first-team all-Pac 12 point guard. Ty Wallace, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews are all explosive scorers that can go for 20 on a given night. Richard Solomon is averaging a double-double while David Kravish isn’t that far behind.

A couple of ugly, early losses hurt the Bears, but this team seems to be peaking at the right time. Front court depth is a major issue, but given the fact that every other team in the league (save for Arizona) has a major issue of their own, I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Mike Montgomery has himself the biggest challenger to Arizona’s throne.