Well it appears that our season is going to continue to get more interesting. In one of those long-shot scenarios where if the Cats wanted to harbor any hopes of postseason play, outside of the PAC 10 tournament that is, they would have to beat a good team to prove that they were worthy of anything more than an afterthought. That's exactly what happened. Still, it was far from a perfect game, but now the Cats are winning a couple of these games instead of losing them. The season may still yet hold more surprises for our favorite felines.
This year, I think Nic Wise took it personally. Last year, he watched Jerome Randle come out and light up the Cats for 31 on their home court, during a game honoring Lute Olson. This is all conjecture on my part, perhaps players these days aren't as passionate about the past, they have to maintain and work on the facade, after all, they are professionals in training, Yet, even though Cal managed an early lead, the Cats hung tough, with good defense and solid performances from Nic Wise, Kevin Parrom, Kyle Fogg and Momo Jones.
Here are some nuggets from the box score....
Team Turnovers - 11 (Nic Wise -1 in 35 minutes.)
Derrick Williams, 15 points and 11 boards
Held California to 38% FG percentage for the game.
The game was a tight one, with no team enjoying a lead over double digits and several mini runs by each time that saw the game tied and the lead exchanged multiple times, and by that I mean there were at least ten lead changes during the game. Cal held the advantage at halftime 34-32. The game itself helped establish that this team does have heart and grit and all of those other hard to define notions by the simple fact that they refused to go away and give up. A large amount of the credit goes to the leadership that Wise exhibited and the faith that Miller has in his players.
That's is some pretty good work against a Mike Montgomery coached team. Randle and Christopher were held in check for the most part while Theo Robertson had his way, but the cats found a way to weather that, thanks mostly in part to Nic Wise who put in 30. This could have been his best performance of his career as he managed the team and moved the ball around. He went to the line in crunch time and never lost his composure. This was the type of game that had been necessary to beat a good Cal team and Nic came through despite the lack of offensive output from Kyle and Jamelle, but their slack was picked up by MoMo who added 10 points off the bench and kept the pressure on the Cal guards all night by relentlessly forcing the action and driving the lane.
Their reward, getting grudgingly acknowledged on the web from the big hoops tracksters indicating that they now have forced their way into the discussion for the dance, albeit on the fringes but when you lead the conference, you gotta get some kind words.
Now it's time to go to the Pacific Northwest and see if they can expand even further on their sudden maturity with getting another win on the road.