The Lede. Through two and a half weeks of Pac-12 basketball, we still don’t know much about this league and how it’s going to shake out. But one thing was confirmed on Thursday night; California is going to have a say on who wins this conference. The Golden Bears got a solid, 57-50 victory over first-place Colorado at Haas Pavilion last night, vaulting Cal into a tie for first place with rival Stanford. In a year where finishing in the top four gives you a first round bye in the pivotal Pac-12 Tournament, the Bears now have big wins over UCLA, Oregon, and the Buffs, all of which can be used as tie breakers for seeding come March.
With the amount of parity and inconsistency in this league, it’s tough to take a single result and make it a big deal. After all, Cal could go out tomorrow and lose to Utah, and Colorado go and win four straight. But last night’s win for Cal felt different, at least to me. First of all, they showed they can win without a huge night from Allen Crabbe. Crabbe, the favorite (or co-favorite) to win Pac-12 Player of the Year, scored in single digits for only the fourth time of the season last night. Instead, players like Harper Kamp, Justin Cobbs were able to step up in the closing minutes to close out the win.
Second, this was the second straight win over a solid opponent for Cal, something that has been and will continue to be tough to come by as conference play continues. The victory moves Cal into a tie for first place in the Pac, and with games against Utah, Washington, and Washington State coming up, the Bears could find themselves on top for a while.