The Pac-12 is madness this season, and California is the latest victim of that craziness.
Cal fell to 0-2 on the week, as it dropped both of its games on an Oregon trip following Saturday’s 77-71 loss to Oregon State. Gary Payton II was the star, scoring 20 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight assists versus only one turnover. He controlled the game from start to finish, and continued to make his case for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.
The difference in this one was simply that the Bears looked like a young team that was on its first road trip in the Pac-12. They turned the ball over 19 times, which led to 12 points for Oregon State, and allowed 15 offensive rebounds, which resulted in another 12 points for the opposition. You can’t give the other team 24 points off of your mistakes and expect to win on the road in the Pac-12, especially this season when the teams are so tightly bunched.
Cleaning up those errors will be the key to Cal’s success through the rest of the year. The talent is there for the group to make a run in the Pac-12 toward a title. The defense has turned it around despite the Bears’ crippling inability to force turnovers and get out on the break as much as they would like. The offense is getting just enough production in spite of the turnovers that they’re committing themselves.
But Cuonzo Martin’s team can’t afford to cripple itself. Road teams are now 6-12 on the year in the Pac-12, with no single team having more than one victory away from home. That shows just how small the margin for error is with everyone around the league, not just the Golden Bears.
Oregon State also deserves some credit in this one though. It was a nice bounce-back win following what was a pretty shocking loss to Stanford at home earlier in the week. Had the Beavers not dropped that game, you’d be talking about them on top of the league right now following three home games. We’ll learn more about them next week when they go on the road to do the Mountain trip against Utah and Colorado. If the Beavers can steal one of those games, it would be huge for their NCAA Tournament chances.