BERKELEY -- There were plenty of imperfections in a 76-55 victory Saturday over Washington State that kept Cal perfect in the Pac-12 Conference.

But the Bears (14-4, 5-0) shook off early sluggishness, shooting 69.6 percent in the second half to break open a one-point game.

"We're not perfect. Most people aren't," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "We were not ready to play. We were late getting onto the floor to shoot, late coming into the locker room.

"There were no knees bouncing, there was nothing bouncing. Frankly, we're not better than anybody if we don't play hard."

That effort showed up in the second half, when Cal outscored the Cougars 21-4 over the first nine minutes and gradually got the game played on its terms. The Bears scored 21 points off turnovers for the game and outscored the Cougars 26-2 in the paint over the final 20 minutes.

Now they head to Los Angeles for games against USC on Wednesday, then UCLA on Sunday.

"I don't know the last time Cal's been 5-0 in conference. We see the opportunity we have," senior guard Justin Cobbs said.

In fact, Cal has won its first five Pac-12 games for the first time since a 7-0 start in 2003. After three weeks, the Bears and top-ranked Arizona enjoy a two-game margin in the loss column over the rest of the Pac-12.

The Cougars (8-10, 1-5) used an 18-4 run to mount an 18-10 lead midway through the first half. They outworked the Bears, especially on the boards, and created a deliberate pace with a zone defense and their own patience on offense.

"We didn't come out with the same energy ... today we were a little stagnant," Cobbs said.

Cal's improved defense changed the tone.

The Bears forced four WSU turnovers during a 14-0 run that erased the early hole, then held the Cougars to 2-for-11 shooting to open the second half. Richard Solomon had three dunks and freshman Jordan Mathews contributed a 3-pointer and a fast-break basket to a 16-2 burst that made it 54-37 with 11:12 left.

"Defense gets us easy baskets," guard Tyrone Wallace said. "That's when everybody starts getting happy."

The Cougars shot just 27.3 percent in the second half.

Cobbs wound up with 16 points and seven assists, Wallace scored 13 to go with four assists and four steals, and Solomon had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Junior forward David Kravish, saddled with early foul trouble, was held without a rebound for the first time in his Cal career, as the Bears were outrebounded 31-25.

But they got 20 bench points, including a career-best eight from 7-foot freshman Kameron Rooks, who was 6 for 6 at the foul line.

Freshman Jabari Bird, back this week after missing five games with an ankle sprain, had four points and three assists in 18 minutes but appeared frustrated at times.

"Jabari just needs some time," Montgomery said, alluding to Bird's rustiness.

  • Montgomery moved past Oregon State legend Slats Gill into third place in Pac-12 history with his 277th conference win and past Lou Campanelli into third on Cal's overall list with his 124th win at Berkeley.

    For more on Cal sports, see the Bear Talk blog at ibabuzz.com/beartalk. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.

    wednesday's game

    Cal (14-4, 5-0 Pac-12) at USC (9-9, 0-5), 8 p.m. ESPNU