The perception of the Cal and Washington basketball teams changed with the Huskies' lopsided 62-47 victory over Cal in Berkeley on Wednesday.
Washington did not look like a conference contender coming into the game, despite being the defending regular-season conference champ. After losing its two stars in the first round of the NBA Draft, Washington figured to do well to finish in the top half of the standings. But a decisive road victory over the Bears makes the Huskies (10-5, 2-0) look like a factor in the Pac-12 race.
Meanwhile, Cal was seen as a possible NCAA Tournament team. Joe Lunardi of ESPN's Bracketology had Cal right on the fringe of being included in the NCAA Tournament if the selections had been made earlier this week. Cal had split the games in Los Angeles last week -- beating USC and losing to UCLA -- but getting run out of its own gym by a team that was not expected to challenge for the conference crown changes how you look at Cal.
The Golden Bears have lost six of their last nine games since their 6-0 start, and after Washington took a 16-point lead late in the first half, the Bears were never in the game.
The Bears' 47 points represented their lowest scoring output in more than two years, and was the lowest in a conference game since Mike Montgomery became coach. And it came against a Washington team that ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring defense and last in field-goal percentage defense.
Cal shot just 37.7 percent for the game, including 1-for-7 from three-point range. The Bears rely heavily on their backcourt for scoring, but the three starting guards -- Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace -- combined for 18 points on 7-for-31 shooting. Cobbs is 12-for-40 from the field in the three conference games and is 0-for-7 on three-pointers over the past six games.
Washington also had 20 offensive rebounds.
"It was pretty apparent from the start they were way more ready to play than we were," Montgomery said. "They dominated us physically. Frankly, I think our guards did a very poor job of chasing down balls and getting involved."
Robert Thurmond, who got his first career start for the Bears, tweeted an apology to Cal fans after the game, according to the Oakland Tribune.
Cal desperately needs to win its home game on Saturday against Washington State, perhaps the worst team in the conference. The Bears are very capable of improving its image this season. If Cobbs regains his shooting touch, and the Bears start getting loose balls, they can get on a roll because they has some offensive firepower in the backcourt. Relying on perimeter players leads to some streaky play, and if the Bears get on a hot streak, they can do some damage. But it will require some intestinal fortitude to get past Wednesday's performance.