SAN JOSE -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is impressed by Cal's Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, but perhaps even more so by Justin Cobbs.
"Their guards are good, really good," Boeheim said. "Crabbe is a tremendous shooter, one of the best shooters in the country.
"And their point guard made so many big plays (Thursday) night, really big plays," he said, referring to Cobbs' performance in the Bears' 64-61 NCAA tournament win over UNLV.
"That game would have gone the other way, but he made some huge plays down the stretch, getting in the lane and getting the ball to the big guys.
"Two really good players."
Cal senior Robert Thurman, thrust into the spotlight after scoring 12 points against UNLV on six dunks without a miss, said he received about 70 texts messages after the game. After a normal game, he said he gets about eight.
"I heard from my loved ones and friends and from a lot of people I haven't heard from in years," Thurman said. "I got one from my mom saying I played well and she loved me."
His dad didn't bother texting -- he was at HP Pavilion. "I could hear some screaming from the court, which was not surprising," Thurman said.
Cal and Syracuse have met just once -- three seasons ago in a Nov. 19 game at Madison Square Garden.
"I remember us not being ranked and them being ranked 12th, and we beat 'em by 20," Syracuse senior guard Brandon Triche said.
Actually, Cal was No. 13 in the AP Top 25, Syracuse No. 25.
And the Orange won 95-73.
Triche, a freshman starter at the time, scored nine points. Brandon Smith was a freshman on the Cal team that featured Jerome Randle and went on to win the Pac-10 regular-season title.
"Even with all the talent we had my freshman year, we got beat pretty bad," Smith said.
Triche offered a blunt response to the notion that West Coast teams get shortchanged because of an East Coast media bias.
"I think we have better teams in general," Triche said. "I think they have five teams in the (NCAA) tournament, which is good for (the Pac-12). For the teams that are ranked pretty high, they usually get national attention."
Cal is 4-7 all-time in its second game in the NCAA tournament. The Bears' most recent victory in that setting was a 75-68 conquest of Villanova in 1997, sending them to a Sweet 16 matchup against a North Carolina team featuring Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison.
Syracuse's 81-34 win over Montana on Thursday night was the program's first NCAA victory in California. The Orange had lost its three previous games, one in Los Angeles, two in San Diego.