Tale of two halves; Bears come roaring back to top Ducks

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How about that? After a first half where Cal played ugly basketball on an ugly court, they came roaring back to defeat Oregon by the score of 81-71. The Bears outscored the Ducks 47-26 in the second half.

Cal was on the brink of falling out of the game in the first. Down 14 at multiple points, they could have fallen out of the game. Instead, they hung on for dear life until halftime and got a big Brandon Smith 3 pointer to cut it to 11 at the half.

Speaking of Brandon Smith, he had a phenomenal night. He played all 40 minutes, only turned it over twice, and hit some big 3’s. If you would have told me Smith would be the starting point guard and he just had a game where he scored 18 points and 6 assists at the beginning of the year, I would have called you crazy. But it happened, and it’s becoming a consistent production from Brandon.

Moving on to the second half, I believe Cal played a lot more zone in the second- I might have just noticed it more, but I think the Bears went to the 2-3 a little bit more. Whatever they did, it worked. The Bears shut down the Ducks shooting in the second, and it got the comeback going. A 7-0 run within in the first 6 minutes had the deficit at just 3, 50-47. Cal took the lead shortly after at 58-57, and Oregon would never lead again. The biggest shot? A Smith 3 to break a 68-65 tie. Cal finished down the stretch and got the win, 81-71. A job well done by the Bears.

It was a tale of two halves. Joevan Catron, who’s been Oregon’s best player all year, scored 2 points in the second half. Without him producing, the team has offensive problems. Meanwhile, the two top Oregon Guards, Strowbridge and Armstead, scored 13 points combined. While they did get contributions from guys like Garrett Sim, the Bears still did a great job defensively in the second half.

While Oregon’s backcourt was struggling, the Bear backcourt was thriving. We already touched on Brandon. But Jorge used the momentum from Sunday to score 23 tonight, while also picking up 5 assists. He had some big buckets down the stretch. Allen Crabbe seems to have finally recovered from his concussion, as he scored 19 on pretty efficient shooting.

The bench still was poor, but in limited quantities. The frontcourt didn’t do a lot and passed out of the post, but it’s better than forcing something that’s not there. They still made half of their attempts and didn’t let the Ducks hit the boards. Not a bad night by any means from Kamp and Sanders-Frison.

This was a big game. It moves the Bears back to .500 in conference play and also gives them a solid chance to avoid a play-in game in the Pac-10 Tournament. They also are in good shape to get a home game in the NIT, although it’d be best to worry about that after we’re eliminated from the NCAAs. Go Bears!