Arizona basketball: Cats fail to solve Crabbe, zone

Cal junior hits 12 of 15 shots; 'It's quiet now!' he tells Arizona fans
2013-02-11T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:15:26Z Arizona basketball: Cats fail to solve Crabbe, zonePatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Allen Crabbe strode from the baseline beneath the Arizona Wildcats' basket to his own free throw stripe with John Wayne steps.

His chest puffed out as wide as his smile, his gait seemed somewhere between that of a conquering king in a parade and a Super Bowl quarterback on a Disney World float.

With 21 seconds left Sunday, his Cal Golden Bears up eight, Crabbe slowed and turned to his left, toward a vocal group of UA fans near midcourt.

"It's quiet now!" he said.

After scoring 31 points in a 77-69 upset of the No. 7 Wildcats, there wasn't much the UA faithful could say in return.

One joked that Crabbe would enjoy the NIT, but that was it.

"I really can't think of any other moment in college where I've felt this great," the Pac-12's leading scorer said afterward, his 12-for-15 shooting performance ranking as one of the greats at McKale Center.

In a loss at Arizona State on Thursday, he turned the ball over twice in the last 41 seconds, both times when Cal was one basket away from tying the Sun Devils.

"Allen's just hard on himself," said guard Justin Cobbs, who had 21 points Sunday. "When he made the turnovers, our whole thing was to embrace him and tell him we're a family and it's not his fault. Things happen. 'You have a lot of pressure on you already. So don't put your head down. Don't get upset about anything.'

"Tonight he was able to bounce back and have a great game."

That was an understatement.

"Allen," coach Mike Montgomery said Sunday, "was very good."

Another understatement.

Crabbe was consistently excellent, making 6 of 8 shots in the first half for 12 points and 6 of 7 for 19 points in the second half.

In the final 20 minutes, of which he played the entire time, the junior made one four-point play and three three-point plays.

"He was, almost, just knocking down anything," Cobbs said.

Crabbe added seven rebounds and five assists, and starred at the top of the Golden Bears' 3-2 zone defense.

"The real key was, that we scored every time," Montgomery said dryly. "That would be the obvious one.

"It allowed us to get back in the zone."

Because Crabbe was making shots, Cal could retreat on defense in time to set its rarely used - until Sunday - defense.

Because the zone worked, Cal stayed in it, saving Crabbe from foul trouble.

"Great defense," Crabbe said, "leads to good offense."

That offense featured more ball movement after the team tweaked some of its halfcourt sets - "Catch 'em off guard," Crabbe said - to get the 6-foot-6-inch wing the ball.

Cal used dribble handoff plays, which forced the Wildcats to switch the screener's man onto Crabbe.

"Our defense just had no answer for Cal's excellence," UA coach Sean Miller said.

Miller called Cal's 30-for-51 shooting "as big of a punch as you're going to take as a defense."

Crabbe's points were the most by a UA foe since Oakland's Reggie Hamilton had 31 at McKale Center on Dec. 20, 2011.

It was the most by a league opponent since Cal's Harper Kamp scored 33 in a triple-overtime loss to the Wildcats at Haas Pavilion on Feb. 5, 2011.

Buoyed by a 17-2 run to start the second half - Crabbe scored 11 during that span - the Golden Bears began to believe.

"Had we not been able to score the ball, I think it woulda gotten into our heads a little bit," Montgomery said. "But each time they kinda made a run, we were able to get a basket."

Before Sunday, the Los Angeles native Crabbe had beaten every Pac-12 team in his three-year college career - except Arizona.

"It's wonderful," said Crabbe, the Pac-12's leading scorer. "We come into Arizona, playing the No. 7 ranked team in the country. They've got a sold-out crowd.

"To come in here and upset them like this, I have no words for how I feel."

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 16 2 0 0.889 34 4 0 0.895
Utah 13 5 0 0.722 26 9 0 0.743
Oregon 12 5 0 0.706 25 10 0 0.714
UCLA 11 7 0 0.611 22 14 0 0.611
Arizona State 9 9 0 0.500 19 16 0 0.543
Stanford 9 9 0 0.500 22 13 0 0.629
Oregon State 8 10 0 0.444 16 14 0 0.533
Colorado 7 10 0 0.412 16 16 0 0.500
Washington State 7 11 0 0.389 13 18 0 0.419
California 6 11 0 0.353 17 15 0 0.531
Washington 5 13 0 0.278 16 15 0 0.516
USC 3 14 0 0.176 12 19 0 0.387

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Arizona at
3/28 78-85
Stanford at
Old Dominion
3/31 6:00 pm
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