Cal's offense was outstanding in the second half against Colorado in Boulder on Sunday.
The Bears shot a blistering 60.5 percent after halftime, including 6-for-11 on three-pointers, and they scored 53 points in the second half, easily their most points in a half this season. The Bears committed only five turnovers in the half, and their top two scorers, Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe, combined for 33 points, seven assists and just one turnover in the final 20 minutes.
Then how is it that the Bears not only lost the game 81-71 but were never in the game after halftime?
Well, starting the game by missing 20 of your first 24 shots, as Cal did, has a lot do with it. So is the fact that Colorado shot 71.4 percent in the second half, making it impossible for Cal to make any inroads on the Buffaloes' 16-point halftime lead.
The 18 points Cal scored in the first half represented their lowest point production in a half this season as the Bears managed to package their best and worst halves of offensive basketball into the same game.
The lasting image from the game is of Cobbs missing a breakaway dunk late in the first half when the Bears were falling hopelessly behind.
It leaves Cal at 11-8, including 3-4 in the Pac-12, while Colorado improved to 14-6, 4-4.
Losing at Colorado is no disgrace. The Buffaloes' only home loss this season came at the hands of UCLA, which beat the Buffaloes by three and later dominated Arizona on the Wildcats' home court. Last season, the Buffs were 14-2 at home.
But the Bears cannot afford to play so poorly in the first half of games, because they are not equipped offensively to make comebacks. They are 11-0 when they lead at halftime this season, and 0-8 when they trail at intermission. And a 16-point deficit at the halfway point is simply too much to overcome for Cal with its limited arsenal.
The Tyrone Wallace factor was also an issue. Although Crabbe (21 points) and Cobbs (22) both exceeded their scoring average, the Bears' desperately need the third scorer that Wallace sometimes provides. In the past eight games, Cal is 0-5 when he scored eight points or fewer and 3-0 when he scored 10 points or more. Wallace had seven points against the Buffaloes, so Cal lost. He had a nice game against Utah, so Cal won.
Cal hosts Oregon State on Thursday, then faces No. 10 Oregon at Haas Pavilion on Saturday.