BERKELEY - After three straight losses, any win is a relief, but Tuesday night's game required a lot of creative squinting to look good.
The California Golden Bears remained perfect all-time against the Gauchos, running their record to 10-0. They did so despite playing a 22-point lead into a nine-point victory in the game's final nine minutes.
Santa Barbara missed shots inside and they missed shots outside, finishing at 33.3% on 22-of-66 for the night. They were better from long range, jacking up 30 from behind the arc and making 13 (43.3%), both season highs for a Cal opponent.
The Golden Bears had trouble shooting also -- they missed nine shots in the paint before the intermission, and 15 overall.
"I thought we should have had a better rebounding margin (Cal led, 45-40)," said Golden Bear head coach Mike Montgomery. "We did emphasize trying to deny them the three. They did get 13 of them. The only way we thought they could beat us was by hitting the three."
The last player to enter the game for Cal, Robert Thurman, was the game's leading scorer with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting. All his points came in the paint, and the majority were second-chance points. He added six rebounds, four on the offensive end.
"We knew we would be the bigger team," Thurman said. "We always stress getting to the boards, offensively and defensively. We knew they were going to run Allen (Crabbe) off the line, and if he missed, I made sure I had good position to get tip-ins."
Perhaps the most noteworthy occurrence of the night was at the opening tip -- freshman Tyrone Wallace started in place of Brandon Smith.
"I thought Tyrone has played well," Montgomery said, "and I thought we could get the same thing from Brandon (Smith) off the bench. He's a smart kid and if he's watching, he can go in and help us make plays, which is what he did.
"Tyrone had a double-double, 10 rebounds, he's the one guy I thought was reacting to the ball."
Wallace did finish with a double-double, also notching 10 points in 26 minutes. He has 10 rebounds in back-to-back games now, and chipped in 4 assists and a pair of steals against UCSB.
"I was Officially informed today," Wallace said."In practice I was running the first team, so I kind of knew. I wasn't really surprised, I've been playing pretty good. I knew a change might happen, but I was ready to continue my role off the bench if that's what Coach wanted."
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the freshman, who was 0-for-4 from the field before the intermission, and 3-for-6 after."I can't tell you (why the disparity)," he said. "Someimes you make shots, some times you miss them. I took some good shots and they didn't go down in the first half, and in the second half, they did."
Cal held a 32-22 halftime lead, holding the Gauchos to under 30% shooting. The 22 points were the fewest scored against Cal in a half this season.
Justin Cobbs hit his (and Cal's) first two shots, both threes--and then went 1-for-6 the rest of the evening, which was shortened to just 27 minutes. He and David Kravish scored 10 each, while Allen Crabbe had another cold shooting performance (4-for-12, 1-for-4 behind the arc) and finished with 12.
Both teams took good care of the basketball; Cal had a season-low eight turnovers, and went 16:47 between their second and third turnovers. Two of the eight giveaways were offensive fouls. The Bears had good ball movement against the smaller UCSB lineup, and assisted on 17 of their 28 baskets.
Cal (7-3) takes on Prairie View A&M from Texas Saturday at Hass Pavilion. Tip-off is at 2:00 and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.