Three Thoughts: Northwest Passage

Tyrone Wallace

Apart from the result and return of freshman Tyrone Wallace's scoring, there wasn't much for California to take away from its 60-59 escape at Oregon State.

1. Every Play Matters
Oregon State was called for a technical foul during pre-game warm-ups, with California guard Allen Crabbe making one of two free throws before the tip.

Beavers head coach Craig Robinson was called for a technical foul in the first half, with Bears guard Justin Cobbs making both of the free throws.

Oregon State ended up making 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) from the free-throw line, while the ever-incompetent Pac-12 referees made several terrible calls at critical moments.

Cal ended up escaping Corvallis, Ore. with a 60-59 win.

Call it luck, call it composure, call it what you want, but Cal was incredibly fortunate to extend its winning streak to five games and avoid a loss that could have been crushing to its NCAA tournament aspirations.

2. Now Let Us Never Speak Of This Again
If there is any positive takeaway this dreadful performance, it is that it didn't happen one week from today. If Cal plays this poorly against Colorado next Saturday, it will get absolutely run out of its home gym.

Cal played with so little energy that players looked positively bored as Oregon State hung around and put itself in a position to steal the game at the buzzer. The offense settled for two abysmal shots on its final two possessions. The defense allowed 15 offense rebounds. Crabbe made only two of his 12 shots from the field, missing several wide-open threes that should be almost automatic for a player of his abilities.

The hope has to be that it was a confluence of difficult circumstances – the emotional let-down after a huge win at the buzzer Thursday at Oregon, looking past one of the worst teams in the conference, an inevitable off-game from Crabbe –yet Cal still came away with the result with all that and more working against them.

The hope has to be that this was a blip, not foreshadowing of future failures with the Buffaloes and talented but inconsistent Stanford waiting to close out the regular season.

With a Pac-12 regular-season title, first-round bye in the conference tournament, and at-large bid all in play, Cal has to hope this was the last time they play so poorly this season.

3. Welcome Back, Wallace
Whether it was the freshman wall or something else, Tyrone Wallace had not been scoring the ball during his last four games, with 20 total points on 9-of-34 shooting and 1-of-12 from three in that stretch, though he had been contributing on defense and in other areas.

Against Oregon State, Wallace got back on track, delivering 11 points on 5-of-12 from the field to offset Crabbe's unusually poor performance.

The concern for Cal has usually been finding that third scoring option behind Crabbe and Cobbs, passing that role back and forth between Wallace and forwards Richard Solomon and David Kravish.

When someone had to step up Saturday, Wallace delivered. He has never lacked for confidence in his shot, but to come through in such circumstances should give Wallace added momentum heading into the most important time of the year.

If Wallace can reestablish himself as a scorer, Cal becomes that much greater a threat in March.

Dan Greenspan writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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