Cal looks to shoot down high-flying Oregon

Allen Crabbe scored season-high 26 points in first meeting, but Oregon has improved dramatically and is one game behind Cal for Pac-12 lead.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Sometimes the shots just fall.

They fell for California in their first meeting with Oregon last month in Eugene, thanks to guard Allen Crabbe.

They certainly fell for the Ducks last week against Washington, making Thursday night's game at Haas Pavilion (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet California) that much more critical in the jockeying atop the Pacific-12 Conference.

Oregon (18-7, 9-4 Pac-12) is part of the three-team logjam for second place, trailing Cal (20-6, 10-3) and Washington by one game.

"They are kind of quietly under the radar, one game back," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. "If you are looking at tie-breakers, it could go a long way to helping them."

And while Cal has the strongest resume and computer profile of any team in the conference – 36th in the RPI used by the NCAA selection committee and higher in other unofficial rankings – the goal remains to claim the title.

"I'm just excited, mostly just excited that we are in first place and have a chance to stay there as long as we take care of business and do our jobs," said senior forward Harper Kamp, who will play his final games at home this weekend. "That's the most important thing, to stay focused on willing these games."

Completing the season sweep will go a long way toward that goal. Crabbe scored a season-high 26 points in the first meeting, which Cal won 77-60. The sophomore couldn't miss, connecting on six of eight three-point tries.

"A lot of this depends on guys making shots," Montgomery said. "I mean Allen made some really, really tough shots against Oregon, just feeling it, and we looked really good."

That was the case in Los Angeles, as the team shot 55.7 percent from the field against USC and 51.9 percent against UCLA. But aside from using the pick-and-roll more versus the Bruins, there wasn't any dramatic change in the offense, Montgomery said.

The same went for Crabbe's standout performance in Eugene.

"I think you think is a lot more that goes on than goes on," Montgomery said. "At Oregon, Allen went off. We didn't do anything different. Allen, the thing just opened up for him and he shot it in."

As always, Montgomery is more concerned with Cal's defense, especially coming off a week where Oregon seemingly couldn't miss.

Guard Garrett Sim scored the first eight points of the game and the Ducks never looked back, leading 49-26 at the half after making 18 of 28 shots (64.3 percent).

Sim finished with 13 points in the 82-57 demolition of Washington, as Oregon hit on 7 of its 13 attempts from behind the arc.

The lights out performance was in stark contrast to what Cal did defensively, holding Oregon to 38.3 percent shooting and five of 18 from three-point range.

"We did play hard and that's what we have to do," Montgomery said, adding that he expects Cal to duplicated that same effort on defense.

"They know who they are. They know what they have to do. We played very, very well against them the last time with our backs against the wall and we really competed."


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