ANAHEIM -- This time Cal took the easy route to victory.
The Golden Bears opened the season 5-0 for the second time under coach Mike Montgomery with a solid 68-57 victory Friday night over Georgia Tech in the semifinals of the DirecTV Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Cal advanced to the tournament final Sunday against the University of the Pacific, which upset Saint Mary's earlier in the day.
The Bears were led by junior guard Justin Cobbs with 17 points, and he also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals as Cal started 5-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Richard Solomon added 12 points and nine rebounds. The team's leading scorer, Allen Crabbe, had 13 points and five assists but also made only 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
"We dug down and helped our bigs," Cobbs said of the guards.
Georgia Tech (3-1) will face Saint Mary's on Sunday in the tournament's third-place game. The Yellow Jackets were led by guard Mfon Udofia (16 points) and forward Kammeon Holsey (14).
Cal started slowly in the second half before building a four-point lead with 11:46 left on Cobbs' dunk that followed Crabbe's jumper. The Yellow Jackets were hampered with the 6-foot-8 Holsey on the bench with three fouls.
"It seems we've gotten better once we got the feel for the game, got the tenor of the game," Montgomery said.
"The defense wasn't where it should be at the beginning of the game,"
The Bears had rallied from as many as nine points down with 6:59 left to defeat Drake 73-70 in the tournament opener.
This time they relied on a 16-3 run to build a 54-44 lead with 8:09 remaining on freshman Tyrone Wallace's three-point play off a spectacular drive underneath the basket. Wallace ended with 11 points and played a big role in subduing Holsey underneath with double teams.
The Bears have out-rebounded each of their five opponents this season -- 41-29 against Georgia Tech.
"You're still talking about an ACC team," Montgomery said. "It's encouraging that we rebounded the way we did."
The Yellow Jackets had won each of its first three games this season by at least 14 points. Coach Brian Gregory hoped the early results are a sign the Atlantic Coast Conference school can rebound from an 11-20 record in his first season.
"They have a couple veterans that just make plays for them, and we weren't able to respond," Gregory said. "We didn't just get enough basketball to beat a talented Cal team."
Georgia Tech hurt itself by making just 2 of 15 3-point shots.
"They took it to us a little bit," Gregory said. "That is something our young guys have to learn. They need to respond well on Sunday."
Montgomery sounded ever the perfectionist when lamenting the way the Bears' offense is running.