The California Golden Bears answered their skeptics Friday night after they stormed out of the gate to a 12-0 start against Louisville, and never looked back. Cal's 51 percent shooting was too much For the Cardinals, who fall to the Bears 77-52
Mike Montgomery, head coach of the eighth seeded Bears, suspended Omandi Amoke two days before their first game in the 2010 NCAA tournament. Many thought the absence of Amoke, a key role player in the post for Cal, meant Louisville would dominate the game down low, but it was the experienced perimeter game that won it for the bears.
Seniors Jerome Randle and Theo Robertson each had 21 points leading the way for Cal, while senior guard Patrick Christopher had 17, including three early first half threes.
The game was almost over from the get go. Louisville looked sluggish after the opening tip, and the Bears took advantage hitting their open shots with ease. But Louisville coach Rick Pitino, the great motivator he is, had the Cardinals surging back right before half time with stifling defense and a full court press and it seemed the tables were turning until Randle hit a forty-five foot buzzer beater going into the break.
That pushed the lead to eleven and summed up the day for Pitino's crew. Louisville played extremely hard the last thirty five minutes and made it more interesting than California might have liked, but every time they cut the lead down to single digits, Cal was able to stop the bleeding.
It was an impressive victory as Cal sets its sights on the number one seed Duke, the incredible obstacle they will face on Sunday. My guess is that few give California a shot at this game, but if the big three of Randle, Robertson, and Christopher, they should match up fairly well against Duke's big three of Singler, Scheyer and Smith. Might be a lot closer than people think.