BERKELEY -- The Cal basketball team that was 3-4 in Pac-12 Conference play after a Jan. 27 loss at Colorado is no more.
The Golden Bears have come full circle in five weeks after a 62-46 smothering of the Buffaloes in front of season-high crowd of 10,679 elated fans at Haas Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
"Cal wasn't this Cal when they came to Boulder a month ago," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "We were the best defensive team in the league for a stretch there, but these guys have overtaken us, and you can see why.
"They manhandled us."
Fans watched as the Bears:
"We've got one more to win," sophomore forward David Kravish said. "Then it's out of our hands."
The Bears (20-9, 12-5), one game behind Oregon and UCLA in the loss column, close the regular season Wednesday at home against Stanford.
The long and aggressive Buffaloes (19-9, 9-7) figured to be a big obstacle. But Cal answered with a wire-to-wire
"We were fired up defensively," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.
As much as anything, the Bears stood their ground and gave some back.
"What became apparent is it was going to be physical. The officials were not going to call a whole bunch," Montgomery said. "I thought our guys adjusted well to that. I don't think they got backed off, which is critical."
The Bears won by 16 points on a day when foul trouble and the CU defense stifled the offense of Pac-12 scoring leader Allen Crabbe. He had just eight points but also seven rebounds and five assists.
And he got plenty of help. Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace had 16 points and 11 rebounds -- and lit a fuse in the crowd with a thunderous transition dunk in the second half. Kravish had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and point guard Justin Cobbs contributed 16 points and five assists.
"Everybody pitched in in some way," Kravish said. "When you can beat a team that's kind of had your number the way we beat 'em, there's no reason not to have fun."
No one had more fun than Wallace. "I definitely came out today ready to play," he said.
"Pretty impressive," Montgomery said. "He kind of got wired in. Defensively, he was flying around, going to the glass."
Cal held the Buffaloes to eight points through the game's first 13 minutes and took a 24-20 lead into halftime.
The margin was 34-31 when Wallace scored consecutive baskets in the lane, and Cal's lead crept to 40-34 after his crowd-pleasing dunk with 9:11 left.
"Plays like that ... the place just goes crazy and infuses us with some energy," Kravish said.
The Bears pulled away from there, outscoring Colorado 18-7 over the final six-plus minutes.
Montgomery declined to speculate on how beating a team ranked No. 22 in the RPI computer rankings might boost the Bears' NCAA chances.
"It's totally out of my hands," he said. "We're just trying to have a good year. We're in the process of having that."