In their first visit to Madison in 54 years, the California Golden Bears were soundly defeated by the host Wisconsin Badgers, 81-56.
The Badgers followed their season script, as all four of their players who average double figures scored 10 or more points in a balanced attack. Led by senior forward Jared Berggren's 18 points and game-high eight rebounds, Wisconsin broke a 5-5 tie and never looked back, building a lead of 18 points in the first half, and extending a 13-point halftime lead throughout the second period.
"I know Bo Ryan’s teams well enough to know what you’re going to get when you come here," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery."I knew we were going to get them at their best in terms of their physicality. They shot the ball well. They shot it maybe a little better than I would’ve anticipated across the board."
Cal's nation-leading backcourt duo of Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe were held to 36 points, below their season-average of 42 per game. Crabbe rolled his right ankle on a rebound in the first half and left the court, appearing to be in serious pain, but he returned to play the entire second half, scoring 25 on 8-of-15 from the floor and hitting seven of his eight free throws.
Cobbs was frustrated much of the game, and was only able to chip in 11 points, barely half his season average of 20.0 per game. Cobbs was the only Golden Bear with prior exposure to the Badgers, as he played against them as a freshman at Minnesota before transferring to Berkeley.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of (guarding) Cobbs," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said, "because he’s been scoring like crazy. Crabbe went through that one little stretch, but then, when you’re up 20-25 and a guy is firing 3’s from 28 feet, I’m going to say, ‘We don’t go out there to foul those guys,’ but we did. [Crabbe] was taking a lot of shots down the stretch."
Wisconsin outplayed Cal in virtually every aspect of the game, as the Badgers were the first team all year to out-rebound the Bears, 36-30. In the process, they snapped Cal's streak of consecutive games with 40-or-more rebounds at four, a feat not accomplished in 15 years. They also knocked Cal from the ranks of the unbeaten teams, as the Golden Bears dropped to 6-1. A victory in Madison would have given the Golden Bears their first 7-0 start to a campaign since 1959.
"Mostly what I’m disappointed about was we lost our poise," Montgomery said. "We didn’t compete. There was a point we turned the ball over a lot and (that) turned into 25 points off turnovers and you just can’t have that. Two things you stress are turning the ball over and not giving up second-chance points. We gave up 43 (second-chance points), so that didn’t give us a very good opportunity to win. We had ‘fumblitis’ out there. Those guys couldn’t catch any passes. There were some early passes inside that might have led to baskets or some fouls on them, but we couldn’t catch the ball and kept dropping the ball. That frustrated us. It kind of all went downhill."
Wisconsin wound up out-scoring Cal from the bench, 20-10, and in points off turnovers, 25-10. Cal committed a season-high 23 turnovers, 10 more than Wisconsin. Cal was never able to get into a rhythm in the game, as evidenced by their paltry seven assists on 18 field goals, shooting just 38% for the game. Perhaps the most telling stat on the day was the vast disparity between assist-to-turnover ratio -- Cal tallied 0.3 assists per turnover, while the Badgers racked up 1.4 assists per turnover.
Cal has a full week to make adjustments before hosting the UNLV Runnin' Rebels at Haas Sunday, December 9 at 3 pm.