Cobbs takes home MVP as Bears roll to title

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Through the first 11 minutes of the first half, California junior wing Allen Crabbe was out-scoring the entire Pacific Tigers squad. Crabbe scored the first five points of the game, and had 13 points in his first 12 minutes of play. As head coach Mike Montgomery often says, the basket looked like a bathtub, and by the end of the night, Pacific was all wet, as the Bears downed the Tigers 78-58 to move to 6-0 on the season and take home the DirecTV Classic tournament title, with junior Justin Cobbs taking home the tournament MVP honors.
"I think we've got talent," Montgomery said. "It's a matter of us taking advantage of our talent and guys being able to be as good as they're capable of. We've got to know how to get Allen Crabbe shots, that's a team thing. Turn that around, Allen knows he's going to draw a lot of attention, so he's going to be able to help get guys shots. There was a moment tonight when I said, the wrong guys are taking the wrong shots. If the guys understand that they aren't going to make every shot, then we're going to be a decent team."
Crabbe -- who, like Cobbs, was named to the all-tournament team -- finished the evening with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, going 1-of-4 from three-point range and hitting 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
"I feel like it's a good opportunity for us to step up this year, and so far we're doing a great job," said Crabbe. "Brandon [Smith] and Justin are doing a great job, making sure we execute. Justin definitely deserves the MVP, he was the most consistent."
The free-throw line was where Cobbs did his best work of the tournament, going 8-for-8 on Sunday to finish the weekend 25-for-29 from the charity stripe, en route to scoring a tournament-high 58 points over three games. Asked what he thought of Cobbs' performance after the game, Montgomery was his wry self.
"He's average," the fifth-year head coach smirked. "He has gotten better. I don't think there's any question of that. He's figuring out how to be effective. The mid-range game, he's reluctant with, but in the last couple games he's jumped up over a couple people and made the most of them. Sometimes he's got to recognize how to immediately get the ball to the shooter. Justin's been good. We're kind of playing seven guys right now -- we need to expand that. I need to get some of these guys more rest. It's hard on them, but we're trying to win games, so that's what we're going to do."
On the tournament, Cobbs shot 16-for-28 from the floor, hitting the most field goals of any player in the bracket, while taking the second-most shots.
The Bears as a team went a season-best 22-for-25 from the line on Sunday, and finished the tournament 61-for-77 (79.2 percent).
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"I was worried that they were going to shoot a lot of free throws, and they did, especially in the first half," said Pacific head coach Bob Thomason, who fell to 3-3 on the year. "They're very good. Crabbe's so long, he curls a lot, he can shoot a three, and he gets fouled. He's not only a shooter, but he's a scorer. But Cobbs is so strong. He gets away with things so cleverly that the refs don't call it -- he does a great job at that."
"We're hard to guard, if we execute," Montgomery said. "I think there's some truth to that. If we execute, we're hard to guard. Without bumping us or without holding us, or something, it's hard to guard us. We've got decent size, and we've got some guys -- obviously these two (pointing to Cobbs and Crabbe) -- are bit time players, so if you don't have guys that can defend guys at that level, we're going to get foul shots, and these guys aren't going to miss many. Al missed two tonight, though, but generally speaking, these guys are money from the line."
Crabbe and Cobbs teamed up once again to form a nigh-unstoppable scoring duo, combining for 44 points on the night, as the Bears shot a season-best 54.0 percent from the floor and held Pacific to a paltry 34.4 percent.
"Me and Allen talked about being consistent, going out there and being patient," Cobbs said. "We also talked about defense and things that don't have to do with offense, but mostly to go up there and shoot with confidence."
Crabbe did just that, hitting four of his first six shots in the game, and then coming out after the break and making his first shot of the second half -- a mid-range jumper to put the Bears up by 12.
While Montgomery started the game with the same lineup he'd put on the floor to begin each of the previous five games, he soon brought in true freshman Tyrone Wallace to play a hefty load, tallying 10 minutes before the break and 21 on the night.
Wallace ended the first half in exciting fashion, partnering with Cobbs on a give-and-go, finishing with a lay-up to put the Bears up 41-27 going into the break.
"I thought Ty was nervous, early, frankly," Montgomery said of his true freshman guard. "I thought, the other night, he was just really, really good. I thought he was really comfortable. I've got to give Pacific credit -- they play hard. They're tough. They don't give in much, and the stuff they were doing to us, for Allen, for Justin and some of the guys -- those two in particular, who have been around -- it doesn't bother them, as much. But, for a freshman, who's not used to being able to just pass it here or go there, it changes the way they look at things. Ty's been really good. He's been really good for us. He'll go get a ball. He can rebound it, he can defend it. I thought he had a really good tournament. I saw some real growth. We needed him -- obviously -- with Ricky [Kreklow] going down. Ty had to play big minutes, and he really helped us."
Wallace finished with four points on 1-of-2 shooting, going 2-for-2 from the free-throw line and adding three boards and four assists.
Cal got into a rhythm early on both ends of the floor, pulling down 19 defensive boards in the first half, while allowing the Tigers just seven offensive rebounds. On the night, the Bears tallied 40 total boards to Pacific's 31.
After Wallace finished the first half in a big way -- teaming with Cobbs on a give-and-go for the final bucket -- the Bears got a bit complacent.
"Coach was telling us that we were playing lazy and didn't have the same intensity that we had in the beginning," Crabbe said. "He told us to pick it up."
While Pacific started the game shooting just 29.7 percent from the floor (11-for-37), the Tigers came out white hot to start the second stanza, closing the gap to a mere five points with 6:42 remaining on the strength of a 14-6 run, which saw Pacific shoot 4-for-11 from the floor but -- more importantly -- hit six of nine free-throw attempts, as Cal shot 1-for-9 from the floor, with sloppy play down low and four turnovers in a 5:54 span.
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"Real proud of our guys, we got within five points," Thomason said. "And then all of a sudden our conversion wasn't good. [Cal] did a great job down the stretch. I was surprised that some of our players -- who have been shooting so well -- couldn't hit a shot. We've got to trust ourselves and find ways to improve. There are a lot of ways we can improve but it's been a great tournament for us."
As the Bears stumbled, 6-foot-10 junior Richard Solomon racked up two fouls and one turnover, but on the whole, had a solid night, shooting 4-of-8 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the line to finish with 14 points and eight rebounds, to go along with three blocks.
"I think Richard has a wealth of talent; he just has to realize what's good play what's bad play, what he can do, what he can't do," Montgomery said. "He gets tired and he's not as good, so we have to make sure we keep him fresh out there. We've got to keep working with Richard. He missed basically all of last year, and he can really help us now. He's gained a lot of weight and strength so we'd like to see him continue to grow."
From that point, though, Cal's other big man - sophomore David Kravish -- really came alive on defense. Kravish -- despite filling up the score sheet with a game-leading six boards in the first half -- didn't score a point until he hit a layup 3:33 into the second period to put the Bears up, 49-38. Kravish halted the Pacific run with a short jumper with 6:21 left, then drew a foul from Khalil Kelley and sank the ensuing freebie. Added a rebound and an assist -- along with aiding a helping hand to the outside defense and clogging the lane -- in the final minutes of the game, finishing with a game-high 10 boards and five points, with three assists, a block and a game-high two steals.
After getting to within five points, Pacific couldn't buy a bucket, going 1-for-7 with two turnovers in the final 6:42. Three-point shooting -- normally the Tigers' bread and butter -- was completely absent from their game on Sunday night. After starting the season shooting 40.8 percent from beyond the arc, Pacific stumbled to a 3-for-17 night from long distance.
"Their big guys are really big inside and I tried to get my guys prepared," Thomason said. "We seemed to go in there and not have the balance to get the shots. Trevin [Harris] had some great shots, Travis [Fulton] had some great shots. I was really happy with the way Tim Thomas played. Timmy is going to make great progress for us. He has a great touch. That's positive for the game too, him playing better ... I think Travis was rushing it. He can make that shot, but that's not what he should be doing. I thought Travis had some great looks. Trevin had some great looks. There's a lot of potential on this team. With Timmy starting to come around we have a lot of different parts. We just have to use those parts. That's experience."
After hitting one of his first five shots in the second half, Crabbe found rhythm as Cal pulled away, hitting his final three attempts along with two from the free-throw line, as the Bears went on a 19-4 run to finish things off, capped appropriately enough by a alley-oop dunk on the fast break on the assist from Cobbs.
"I told myself I needed to relax and be more patient," Crabbe said. "Today I told myself to be more patient and to take what they gave me. Fortunately I was able to make the shots."