BERKELEY, Calif. – It didn’t take long for California junior guard Allen Crabbe to show the skills that have him on the John Wooden Award pre-season watch list, knocking down all four of his three-point tries and scoring 20 points in the first half against overmatched Cal State Bakersfield.
But the optimism and promise of opening night, with the Golden Bears coasting to a 78-65 win, was nearly wiped away when Crabbe landed awkwardly on his left ankle during a scramble for an offensive rebound with 1:27 left in the half. He favored the leg as he was helped to the bench, returned for warm-ups after halftime, but quickly stopped and met with team doctors.
“I guess I got tangled up with somebody, but I’m fine though,” Crabbe said.
Crabbe was able to start the second half, missing his both of shots before taking a seat with 13:31 left to play, but did block a shot and lobbed up an assist in transition to David Kravish.
Crabbe ultimately played 15 minutes in the second half. He finished the night with a game-high 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting, 4-of-5 from behind the arc.
Redshirt junior guard Justin Cobbs added 22 points, while senior guard Brandon Smith, who suffered a bruised shoulder in an exhibition against San Francisco State last Tuesday, was able to start and chipped in with 5 points and 5 assists for Cal (1-0).
Cobbs and Crabbe were pleased with the scoring punch they provided, with Cobbs saying they “feed off each other.
“I love playing with this man,” added Cobbs with a grin, Crabbe sitting to his left in the post-game press conference.
The two had 34 of Cal’s 45 first-half points, before the team coasted to the finish line.
Head coach Mike Montgomery was pleased with the victory, but found plenty to critique, including allowing 19 offensive rebounds and the lack of a reliable third scoring option.
“We’ve got some big guys that just stand and do not react off the floor and go get the ball. We’ve got to get that solved,” Montgomery said. “I thought David worked pretty hard out there to try and rebound, but he was pretty much out there by himself.
Montgomery noted that redshirt sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow (foot) could “make a cameo” against Pepperdine on Tuesday, and would certainly play Friday at Denver.
Stephon Carter had a team-high 15 points for the Roadrunners (0-2).
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.