Cobbs more than "average" to win MVP

Justin Cobbs (US Presswire)

Led by guards Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe, California shows plenty of promise during the DirecTV Classic, capped by their 78-58 championship game win over Pacific.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Asked to sum up the play of junior guard Justin Cobbs during the DirecTV Classic tournament, California head coach Mike Montgomery deadpanned as only he can and said, "He's average."

Cobbs was anything but during Thanksgiving weekend, confirming that with 20 points, sevens rebounds, and five assists in a 78-58 championship game win over Pacific at the Anaheim Convention Center on Sunday evening to earn MVP honors.

"It's just me finally finding a rhythm and being able to play my game and things are working out well," said Cobbs, who averaged 19.3 points and 4.3 assists per game to make the all-tournament team alongside fellow junior guard Allen Crabbe.

With the backcourt tandem continuing to lead the way, Cal (6-0) lead from the start with Crabbe scoring the first five points of the game, opening up a 14-point advantage at halftime.

Pacific (3-3) would take advantage as Cal throttled down after the break, pulling within five at 59-54 on Khalil Kelley's jump shot with 6:42 to play, but David Kravish then hit a one-handed leaner in the paint while being fouled.

Kravish knocked down the ensuing free throw, then Crabbe and Cobbs each scored in transition to stabilize the advantage.

Crabbe finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, showing the kind of promise Cal has with he and Cobbs are operating on all cylinders.

That is most evident when they are able to get to the free-throw line. Cobbs was 8-for-8 from the stripe against Pacific and 25-of-29 for the tournament, while Crabbe was 5-of-7, which drew a playful critique from Montgomery in the post-game press conference.

"Me and Allen just talk about being consistent always, just going out there and putting forth the effort. We are used to teams now trying to take us away and do things that is going to the aspects of the game," Cobbs said.

"As far as getting to the free throw line, those are free. There is nothing to do but knock it down, get up there and shoot with confidence."

Forward Richard Solomon added 14 points and eight rebounds, but Montgomery, Crabbe, and Cobbs were all quick to douse any unnecessary enthusiasm.

"As much as it means to us to win this tournament and be undefeated right now, it's still early," Crabbe said.

Among the points they ticked off:

-Cal will play at Wisconsin, then host UNLV and Creighton over the next three weeks, the latter two ranked in the top 18 of the coaches and AP polls.

-Crabbe and Cobbs averaged more than 36 minutes during the tournament, Cal down to a seven-man rotation with redshirt sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow injured.

-The offense can get too stagnant, while forward Solomon, Kravish, and Robert Thurman still need to contribute more scoring.

Still, the promise is there, and Crabbe knows it.

"I feel like we can be something special," he said. I just feel like we can really be a great team."

Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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