In his home-state debut Monday night, California freshman David Kravish put on a show for family and friends, pulling down a game-high eight rebounds, blocking two shots and scoring six points in 23 minutes as the No. 20 Bears rolled to a 70-46 win over Georgia in the semifinal round of the Progressive CBE Classic in their first real test of the season against quality competition.
"In all fairness to them, we knew exactly what they were going to do, because that's the same thing as my stuff," said head coach Mike Montgomery, who's offense is almost exactly the same as Mark Fox's scheme.
Senior power forward Harper Kamp netted a game-high 16 points as one of three Bears to score in double-figures, including senior guard Jorge Gutierrez (14) and sophomore guard Justin Cobbs (10).
The Bears (4-0) matched their best start under Montgomery with the win, and will face Missouri in the title game on Tuesday night. The Tigers downed Notre Dame 87-58 in the other semifinal game.
Georgia fell for the first time this season as Cal won for the first time in the state of Missouri since Dec. 29, 1982, when the Bears defeated St. Louis, 76-74, under then-head coach Dick Kuchen.
Georgia hung with Cal for the first 15 minutes of the contest, and held a 25-22 lead with about five minutes left in the first half when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hammered home on a dunk in transition and Nemanja Djurisic was credited with a basket after goaltending.
Starting Cal point guard Brandon Smith's only points of the first 20 minutes stopped brief Bulldogs flurry and began Cal's half-ending 14-0 run. Sophomore wing Allen Crabbe hit a go-ahead three-pointer, Kamp converted a three-point play and Gutierrez added another short basket. By the time Cobbs scored just before the first-half buzzer, the Bears had extended their lead to 36-25 after a 14-0 run, echoing the last two games, in which the Bears went on runs of 21-0 and 16-2 against George Washington and Austin Peay.
That trey from Crabbe broke a 45:22 scoreless streak for the 2010 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Crabbe also chipped in two assists and four boards before the break, finishing with nine points, six rebounds and three assists, hitting 3-of-6 from three-point range.
The Bears kept the mojo going by extending that run to 29-4 after halftime, capped off by a nifty play from Gutierrez, who split the lane and finished with a left-handed lay-up on the up-and-under to give Cal a 53-29 lead.
Gutierrez turned in a 14-point performance on 5-of-11 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line, backed up by seven rebounds and two assists.
"He just gives all his energy," said Kravish, who grew up in suburban Kansas City. "He brings so much intensity that it raises everybody's level of play."
Cobbs scored 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting with a perfect day from the charity stripe (3-for-3) and hitting the only three-point shot he attempted, while adding three of the Bears' seven steals. The Minnesota transfer came off the bench to record a game-high five assists, including a feed to Kamp on the break with just under seven minutes remaining in the game to give Cal a 63-35 lead on a 39-10 run.
Georgia was still within 39-29 with 17:53 left in the game after Donte Williams scored the second of his back-to-back buckets, but Kamp - who also pulled down three of Cal's 33 boards and shot 6-of-6 from the field with a 4-of-6 mark from the line -- scored the next five points -- three of them from the foul line -- to start a run of 14 unanswered by the Bears that put the game away.
Cobbs added a highlight-reel three-point play during that spurt, and Gutierrez's basket with 11:16 left in the game gave Cal a 53-29 lead and forced Fox to call timeout.
The Bears held a 21-11 advantage on the glass in the first half, and finished the game with a 34-27 mark against an inexperienced Bulldogs frontcourt.
"You get used to the physical play," Montgomery said before the game. "We're not very physical, but the physical play and playing against guys that are just as big and just as strong and just as good as you are, the adjustment to the college game is sometimes straining. Freshmen come out of high school where you were the biggest and the best, the junior college level is not the same, so getting used to what you can and can't do - unless you're a superstar, unless you're just flat-out better than everybody and can do it all, which, there are very few of those - you've got to figure out what you can do to be successful in there. You've got to pick up the tricks of the trade, the little things that you have to do to allow you to be successful, what your go-to stuff is, it's an adjustment, particularly in the league that they're going to play in."
With 8:27 left in the game, Crabbe was forced into a wild three attempt by the Bulldogs' zone defense on the right side, but came right back 30 seconds later to hit a wide-open three from the left side.
Caldwell-Pope scored 10 to lead the Bulldogs, but he shot just 4-of-13 from the field, as Georgia wound up shooting 33 percent on the night -- including 4-of-19 from beyond the three-point line.
The Bears, on the other hand, shot 25-of-50 from the field, 6-of-11 from beyond the arc and 14-of-18 from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs hoisted up 19 three-point attempts, seeing just four of them fall -- two from Caldwell-Pope.
Gerald Robinson and Djurisic each added nine points for Georgia.
Four Cal players pulled down at least six rebounds -- Kravish, Gutierrez, Crabbe and sophomore Richard Solomon, who tallied seven boards and five points in 22 minutes. Solomon also had two blocks, tied with Kravish for the game-high.
The Bears put 12 players on the floor on Monday night, including Robert Thurman, who saw his first action since the season opener, playing five minutes. Seven Cal players clocked at least 22 minutes.
Cal will now face No. 21 Missouri in the title game of the tournament on Tuesday.
"It's a huge challenge," Montgomery said. "There might be some people that play small (in the Pac-12), but they won't have the talent of these guys."