MAUI, Hawaii - Late to the Meeting, Late to the Party and defintely Late to the Boards.
That's sums up Arkansas' 85-77 loss to California in the opening game of the 2013 Maui Invitational Monday at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Michael Qualls led Arkansas with 21 points and Anthlon Bell added 16, but both of those sophomore starters came off the bench after being late to a team meeting.
"They were late for a team meeting and as I said to those guys, that is part of building your team," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "You have got to learn from it and knowing that they are a big part of this team. You can't be late for a team meeting. We dealt with that and now we move forward."
The Razorbacks (3-1) promptly started 1-of-12 from the field with that pair on the bench and then the Bears (5-0) dominated the boards in the second half to secure the win despite a late challenge from Arkansas.
"We had some good shots, but they just didn't go down," said Anderson, whose team shot 37.5 percent from the field in the game. "We had a bunch of point blank shots."
The Razorbacks will meet Minnesota (5-1) – who lost to Syracuse 75-67 in the day's second game – at 1 p.m. CST on Tuesday while Cal faces the Orange in the rematch of last year's second round NCAA Tournament game.
"We are obviously pleased coming into this thing because when you look at the field you are wondering 'Gosh, can we win a game?" Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. "...We are pleased. Arkansas is a very good team and Mike Anderson is a terrific coach. I am sure they are going to have a great year."
David Kravish – a 6-9, 221-pound junior power forward - had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead the way for Cal, whose 6-10, 235-pound senior center Richard Solomon (11 points, 7 rebounds) – averaging 12 rebounds a game - battled through foul trouble.
Former Missouri and Anderson player Ricky Kreklow added 17 points off the bench and both redshirt senior point guard Justn Cobbs and McDonald's All-American freshman shooting guard Jabari Bird 15 for the Bears, trying to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bears out rebounded the Razorbacks 48-32 – including 27-14 after intermission.
"I thought their experience showed and our inexperience showed in a game of this neutral setting," Anderson said. "I thought Cobbs did a good job of setting the tone and in the second half they really did a good job of exposing us on the glass. In my mind, I know we are a much better rebounding basketball team, but for some reason we didn't have the energy to finish it up.
"As I told our guys, 'I am 0-1 and I will take the blame for that,'" Anderson added. "I didn't get them in the position they needed to be in a game of this magnitude. But at the same time I think California had something to do with that. I think they made big plays after big plays even after we made runs at them.
"But we will learn from this and that is what this trip is all about, - getting a chance to learn and hone in on the things we need to get better at," Anderson continued.
Anderson pointed out that Coty Clarke and Bobby Portis – his two leading rebounders – both got just one rebound each in a combined 39 minutes of playing time.
"My two leading rebounders get two rebounds between them," Anderson said. "You aren't not going to beat many people when that happens."
Anderson said that effort meant 6-10 freshman Moses Kingsley, who did not play on Monday, will be seeing some minutes on Tuesday.
"We will be getting him in there," Anderson said. "We will be addressing that issue. He can add some toughness and a little bit more energy. Tomorrow is going to be a different day."
Rashad Madden added 10 points and Alandise Harris 8 points and 6 rebounds for the Razorbacks.
After Arkansas fell down 10-4 during its initial cold spell, Bell hopped off the bench to hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it 10-10.
The Razorbacks would fall down by 8 later in the half only to rally to take the lead when Qualls hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 35-34 lead just 21 seconds out of the locker room.
But the Bears – who had just a 21-18 rebound advantage at halftime – began pounding the boards and eventually grabbed their biggest lead of the game to that point at 58-46 on Solomon's free throw with 10:55 left in the game
The Arkansas pressure then caused Cal to turn the ball over on five of its next seven possessions and the Razorbacks crawled within 62-57 on Alandise Harris' lay-up with 7:31 left.
Kravish sandwiched a pair of buckets around ones by Solomon and Cobbs to make it 70-57 and the lead never got less than seven points from that point on.
"When they cut it to five, I was really getting worried," Montgomery said. "If we had made one more turnover and they got it cut down even more, we would have really been in real trouble. But Kravish and Kreklow made some big plays for us down the stretch."
The fast pace was certainly more to Arkansas' liking in the first half, but slowed down a lot in the second half.
"They did a good job and they were in control," Anderson said. "You look at the points in the paint and that was the big difference and they get those rebounds. If we get them then we are going up and down the floor."
The early struggles were due to lack of ball movement per Qualls, who had 17 of his points after halftime.
"I felt like it was a lack of movement of the basketball and that you can't have one person with the basketball in his hands and constantly pounding it," Qualls said. "If we get constant ball movement and have players catching it in rhythm then they can knock the shot down. We were real stagnant."
Qualls, who had five rebounds, also noted that Arkansas has to rebound more as a team.
"It's about sacrifice," Qualls said. "I am disappointed because I think I could have gotten more boards so I put that on myself. I have got to have quality minutes. In a situation like that, we have to come together. We can't have one guy kill us. That's the worst part."
Bell was 4-of-10 from 3-point range, but just 1-of-4 after halftime.
"We have to come out and play harder and learn how to put together two halves," Bell said. "If there is any half we want to win, it's the second half. We have to learn by experience."
California 85, Arkansas 77
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