ANAHEIM, Calif. – California turned it on in the second half to defeat Georgia Tech, 68-57, in the semifinals of the DirecTV Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday night.
Cal (5-0) advances to the championship game Sunday evening against Pacific, which downed Saint Mary’s, 76-66, earlier Friday afternoon.
Justin Cobbs scored a game-high 17 points, allowing Cal to overcome a poor shooting performance by Allen Crabbe, who was just 4-of-13 from the field. However, the junior guard from Los Angeles (Calif.) Price, bolstered by a large cheering section, found other ways to contribute, adding five rebounds and five assists along with 13 points.
“Allen was frustrated,” Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. “I would have said early on if Allen wasn’t getting a whole bunch of touches or good shots that we would struggle, but we were able to involve some other people.”
Richard Solomon added 12 points and nine rebounds, while freshman Tyrone Wallace chipped in with 11 points. But it was the effort on the defensive end that impressed Montgomery, especially in the second half.
Georgia Tech (3-1) was held to 9-of-30 from the floor, 1-of-7 on three-pointers, and had no assists against five turnovers after the break.
“Our defense wasn’t where it should be in the beginning of the game,” Cobbs said. “They were getting easy layups, but we adjusted. We picked up our defense. It was just adjustments.”
Redshirt junior forward Kammeon Holsey was able to isolate a Cal defender, then create a shot for himself or a teammate, finishing with nine points and two assists in the first half. Montgomery then decided to double-team Holsey with a guard, which limited his creativity.
“Normally we wouldn’t double from a guard,” Montgomery said. “In that particular stage, Tyrone was really good because he had the length to get down, make him pick up, and then recover back with his length and not give up a good shot.
“At a time where they potentially could have changed the whole complexion, they didn’t get much and I thought that was huge.”
Holsey had just five points and no assists after the change in strategy.
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.