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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Duo has taken Cal to top of conference

Duo has taken Cal to top of conference

College basketball is a guard’s game.

Eight of the NCAA’s top 10 scorers are backcourt players, further proving the impact guards have on the floor.

With the growing importance of 3-pointers, coupled with an emphasis on hand-check fouls on the perimeter, it’s a team’s backcourt that often dictates how successful they are in March.
Consider that and it’s no surprise Cal sits atop the Pac-12 standings.

Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez and sophomore wing Allen Crabbe are arguably the conference’s top backcourt duo, combining to average 29.9 of the Golden Bears’ 72.2 points per game.

“Crabbe and Gutierrez are a great one-two punch,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “They’re the heart and soul of that team.
“They can hurt you in so many ways, especially Gutierrez. He’s a terrific player.”

While Crabbe leads the Pac-12 in 3-pointers made and ranks fourth in scoring, at 15.8 points per game, Gutierrez is Cal’s true barometer for success.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound, multi-talented guard from Chihuahua, Mexico averages 14.1 points per game on the season, but only 9.6 points in Cal’s five losses.

He ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in assists with 4.43 per game, and is the only non-point guard in the top six.

Gutierrez is also one of the league’s better rebounding guards, as evidenced by his 12-rebound performance against Stanford on Sunday.

“Gutierrez is one of those guys that you would hate to play against, but love to have as a teammate,” said UA forward Solomon Hill. “He does little things that other guys really don’t take in. For a guard going down there and getting 12 rebounds, I don’t think I’ve had a game where I got 12 rebounds.”

Crabbe, on the other hand, is one of the conference’s better underclassmen. The four-star recruit out of Los Angeles, Calif., has the size (6-foot-6, 205 pounds) and range to give Arizona fits tonight in Berkeley.

“He’s a great young player,” said UA guard Kyle Fogg. “Like a few of the other guys I’ve guarded he’s got height on his side and I’m sure he’s going to come off a lot of screens looking for open threes. It’s going to be another tough challenge for me to take him on.”

Crabbe’s drilled four or more triples in seven games this season, but he’ll have his hands full against Fogg and an Arizona defense that leads the Pac-12 in 3-point defense, surrendering only 27.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

While Crabbe and Gutierrez are unquestionably Cal’s most dangerous duo, point guard and Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs is on the verge of transforming the Golden Bears’ duo into a three-headed monster.

The sophomore is averaging 13.0 points per game, while ranking third in the conference in assists per game with 4.7.

“He gives us a different dimension,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said of Cobbs on his Tuesday teleconference. “He’s able to get to the basket. He’s strong and when he gets to the basket he can finish but he’s also very good at dropping it off. He’s getting better and more consistent and when he’s good he’s real good.”

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