On New Year’s Eve at 7:00 PM PST on Pac-12 Networks and KGO 810 AM, Cal men’s basketball will take on the #21 Oregon Ducks in Eugene. Cal comes in at 5-4 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-12 while Oregon comes in at 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the Pac-12.
Notebook: Cal Basketball Heads to the Oregon Schools
Last time out: On Tuesday, December 22, Cal defeated Seattle U by a final score of 70-65 at Haas Pavilion to wrap up their non-conference schedule. Cal grad transfer Ryan Betley finished with 17 points.
RECAP: Cal MBB pulls out gritty win over Seattle U
On Oregon: The Ducks are led by redshirt senior forward Eugene Omoruyi (18.1 points & 4.6 rebounds), senior guard Chris Duarte (15.4 points & 4.9 rebounds), and redshirt junior forward Eric Williams, Jr. (12.7 points & 7.1 rebounds). The three of them have the Ducks humming to an impressive 6-1 start. After dropping their first game of the season to #12 Missouri, who is led by former Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin, the Ducks have won six straight games.
The Ducks are a little banged up. Their starting sophomore center N’Faly Dante is out for the season due to a knee injury against San Francisco and junior guard Will Richardson, who averaged 11.0 points per game last season, is out with a thumb injury that will keep him out for a least a couple more weeks.
As a team, the Ducks average 77.4 points per game on 48.4% shooting from the field, 31.7% shooting from 3-point range, and 68.9% shooting from the foul line. They average 14.9 assists, a +9.0 rebound margin, 8.0 steals, 4.7 blocks, and 13.9 turnovers per game. Their opponents are averaging 63.9 points per game 38.9% shooting from the field, 29.0% shooting from 3-point range, and 76.9% shooting from the foul line.
Keys to the game: For Cal, the first thing they have to do is do all they can to assert their will inside. The Ducks don’t have Dante and that’s a big hit to their interior presence as he was averaging 8.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and a shade over 1 block per game. With Grant Anticevich still out due to his appendectomy, the opportunity is there for Lars Thiemann, Andre Kelly, D.J. Thorpe, and Kuany Kuany to get after it inside. Cal is averaging a solid +3.0 rebound margin per game, so they definitely have the potential to give the Ducks a little bit of trouble on the glass.
Secondly, Cal needs to keep Oregon’s 3-point shooting under wraps. The Ducks are shooting a very modest 31.9% from deep, but against a Cal team that is allowing opponents to shoot 36.9% from 3-point range, the Ducks will look to capitalize. If Cal can hold the Ducks close to their 3-point shooting average and not allow them to have a wild night from beyond the arc, Cal will have an opportunity to keep themselves in the game. At least defensively.
Finally, Cal needs to get a big night from junior guard Matt Bradley. The old adage in hoops is that your role players play well at home and your stars have to carry you on the road. In the case of Cal, Matt Bradley is their star and they need him to step up on the road. If he has a productive night and his teammates are able to feed off of that, maybe Cal pulls off an upset. If Bradley is quiet and has an off night, then it’s almost certain to be a long night for the Bears.
Prediction: Oregon is on quite a roll and I don’t see Cal being the team to stop them. Especially with this game being in Eugene. Oregon wins 71-58.
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