Sizzling start sparks Cal to easy win 

click to enlarge Richard Solomon rips down a dunk during Cal’s thrashing of UCLA in Berkeley on Thursday. - KELLEY L COX/USA TODAY SPORTS
  • Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports
  • Richard Solomon rips down a dunk during Cal’s thrashing of UCLA in Berkeley on Thursday.

BERKELEY —  Allen Crabbe extended his arms out wide and flashed three fingers on both hands. David Kravish and Richard Solomon chest-bumped each other, screaming in celebration. Mike Montgomery just took a seat on the bench and smiled.

At long last this season, the Cal men’s basketball team has the look of a consistent winner.

Kravish had a career-high 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Solomon added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Cal coasted past UCLA 76-63 on Thursday night behind a big first half.

“This is the team we should have been all season,” Kravish said. “This is the team we can be.”

Cal sure made it look that way.

Crabbe, the Pac-12 Conference’s leading scorer entering the game, had 15 of his 16 points in the first half to help the Golden Bears
(15-9, 7-5 Pac-12) sprint out to a 28-point lead before the break. He finished with five assists and five rebounds as Cal held off the Bruins (18-7, 8-4) for its fourth win in five games, including three over the conference’s top teams.

Justin Cobbs added 12 points and nine assists, feeding Cal’s remarkably efficient big men. Kravish finished 8-for-11 from the floor, while Solomon was 8-for-10.

“You can’t ask for a better night from both of them,” Crabbe said.

Jordan Adams scored 15 points, and Shabazz Muhammad had 13 points and 11 rebounds, for UCLA, which hasn’t won at Haas Pavilion since a 76-75 overtime victory on Jan. 6, 2010. After two wins last weekend, the Bruins blew a chance to stay in control of its league title chase before the halftime buzzer sounded.

“The first half of basketball, we couldn’t do anything right,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “And they did everything right."

Getting a lift from a raucous home crowd announced at 9,854, the only thing flashier than Cal’s slick passing and penetration was its swagger. High-rising dunks. No-look passes. Blocked shots that landed in the stands.

Cal’s confidence echoed throughout Haas Pavilion, and the Bears played with a sort of swagger in front of a national television audience as if they wanted another NCAA Tournament berth. Cal scored 15 straight points during one stretch in the first half, holding UCLA without a basket for almost 6 minutes.

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