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February 10, 2013
Seemingly everything that left Allen Crabbe's hands found its way through the basket Sunday night. Arizona head coach Sean Miller even thought that the California guard had some misses that looked better than his 12 field goals.
Crabbe only gave Miller three misses to think about. It was that kind of night for the seventh-ranked Wildcats.
The Bears junior scored 31 points - two off his career high - and the visitors shot better than 65 percent in the second half to come from behind for the 77-69 upset at McKale Center.
"To have those numbers, you have to make some tough shots - and they did," Miller said about Cal, and more specifically Crabbe - who converted 12 of 15 baskets to go with seven rebounds and five assists.
Trailing by five at the half, the Bears (14-9, 6-5 Pac-12 Conference) turned to the league's leading scorer for a burst to open the second half. Cal used a 17-2 run highlighted by Crabbe's four-point play to take a 10-point lead and all of the momentum away.
After the 17:50 mark, the Wildcats (20-3, 8-3 Pac-12) never pulled in front the rest of the way.
Whether it was beating the shot clock or scoring on a variety of well contested shots throughout the game, Crabbe had it going and there was little primary defender Nick Johnson could do about it.
"I don't know how to explain this feeling, it's wonderful," said Crabbe, who scored 19 of his points after the break.
Seniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom noted afterward that the players have the freedom to switch assignments, and the taller Crabbe - listed at 6-6 - had an advantage shooting over the 6-3 Johnson, who is regarded as the team's best on-ball defender. Hill and Parrom each stand 6-6.
But Miller said little would have mattered on such a night.
After the flat start to the second half, Grant Jerrett connected on a corner 3 to ignite a 9-2 spurt, pulling the Wildcats to within 52-49 with 12 minutes remaining. The Bears continually responded, even when UA cut the deficit to two on a Mark Lyons free throw with less than 3 minutes to play.
Justin Cobbs and Lyons traded 3-pointers on the next two possessions before a Crabbe jump shot - his final two points of the evening - with 1:42 to play.
"He's capable of it at any time, but he obviously felt good tonight," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said of his star.
Cobbs, who finished with 21 points, then pushed the lead to six and sealed the victory on a layup with 39 seconds remaining.
Judging by the box score, the game played out far different.
The Wildcats made nine of 18 3-pointers, had twice as many free throw attempts (24) and turned the ball over just nine times. Cal did not attempt its first free throws until the 1:37 mark of the opening half, and Arizona led 38-33 at the break.
But the Bears' zone defense limited Arizona to 11-of-30 shooting in the second half to end the game below 40 percent, and the Pac-12's top free throw shooting team made matters worse with eight missed freebies.
"We let the zone affect us and didn't get the ball movement that we needed," said Hill, who missed 8 of 12 shots and finished with 13 points.
Lyons paced the team with 16 but missed 9 of 14 attempts.