FACTS & STATS: Site: Anaheim Convention Center Arena (9,000) -- Anaheim, California. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Pacific 1-1, California 2-0. Away Record: Pacific 0-1, California 1-0. Neutral Record: Pacific 2-0, California 2-0. Conference Record: Pacific 0-0, California 0-0. Series Record: California leads, 25-2.
GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers will try to pull off a third upset to take home a tournament title as they meet the undefeated California Golden Bears in the DirecTV Classic Championship at Anaheim Convention Center Arena.
No other Big West Conference team had won its first-round game of this event in the past six seasons. Coach Bob Thomason's squad did not appear to be destined to break the trend after his team came in with a 1-2 record and without any wins over Division I competition. Pacific went into its first- round game versus a then undefeated Xavier squad as a huge underdog, but it overcame an early deficit to edge the Musketeers, 70-67. The Tigers were once again expected to be handed a loss when they squared off with future West Coast Conference rival Saint Mary's in the second round. Instead, Pacific held a 34-24 edge in the rebounding battle and scored 18 points off of turnovers to shoot past the Gaels.
California is without a loss after five games. The Golden Bears outscored four of their first five opponent by double-digit margins, with the lone exception being their 73-70 triumph over Drake in the first round. In that contest, they showed how quickly they can turn on the switch by overcoming a nine-point deficit over the final seven minutes to remain in the winner's bracket. Montgomery's team then took on Georgia Tech in the second round. Although the Yellow Jackets were holding their opposition to an average of 45.7 ppg, California cruised to a 68-57 decision. One more win would give Cal its first 6-0 start since the 2007-08 season.
The Tigers will have history to overcome in this one as well as they have only defeated California twice out of 27 matchups. The Bears are 2-0 versus Pacific under current head coach Mike Montgomery.
The Tigers will hope to stay hot after they knocked down 53.1 percent of their field goal attempts versus the Gaels. Saint Mary's, which came in with a 4-0 record, shot just 41.8 percent from the field against Pacific's defense. Lorenzo McCloud led the way with 18 points after he converted 8-of-9 attempts at the charity stripe. The senior guard was held to six points on 3-of-8 shooting from the floor by Xavier in his previous outing. Ross Rivera, Khalil Kelley, and Sama Taku all scored in double figures in the contest as well. The team managed to make 21-of-26 at the free-throw line, while SMC made nine of only 10 foul shots.
Through five games, California has outscored its opponents by 11 ppg, while shooting 47.8 percent from the floor. The Golden Bears have also been actively attacking the glass for 41.2 rebounds per game, which is 9.8 rpg more than their opponents' average. The backcourt duo of Crabbe and Justin Cobbs has been unstoppable for the Golden Bears. Cobbs has led the team through the tourney so far with 38 points in two games. Crabbe is pacing the team on the season with 21.6 ppg. Richard Solomon and Tyrone Wallace each scored in double figures versus Georgia Tech, while David Kravish grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
The Tigers have earned wins through the first two rounds with great defense, hustle, and scoring. The Golden Bears will be very tough to slow down, especially with Cobbs playing at another level right now. California will stay perfect and hand Pacific a loss for the 26th time in history.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 78, Pacific 67
11/25 10:33:50 ET
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