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Cal Golden Bears Game Preview & Open Thread

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The Huskies look to pick up their first road win of the year in Berkeley.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Thursday, 1/12/16

Tip-Off Time: 6:00pm PST

TV: FS1

Radio: Komo 1000

Cal Statistics:

Record: 11-5 (2-2)

Points For per Game: 71.1 ppg

Points Against per Game: 62.4 ppg

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.7 (145th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.7 (9th)

Cal Key Players:

F- Kingsley Okoroh, Sr. 7-0, 252: 5.4ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.1apg, 55.4% FG, 48.4% FT

Okoroh is part of a massive front line for Cal but is better on defense than on offense. His scoring comes almost entirely from putbacks on offensive rebounds. His shot blocking ability ranks just behind Malik Dime and Chris Boucher as one of the conference leaders.

F- Ivan Rabb, Sr. 6-11, 220: 15.4ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.9apg, 55.3% FG, 63.6% FT, 57.8% 3pt

Rabb would’ve been a lottery pick had he left school after last year but came back and has been dominant to this point. He’s an above average rebounder, shot blocker, scorer, and draws fouls at an exceptional rate. The 3-pt percentage above is on only seven attempts as Cal doesn’t rely on their big men to stretch the floor.

G- Jabari Bird, Sr. 6-6, 198: 14.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.8apg, 41.9% FG, 80% FT, 30.9% 3pt

Bird was an elite prospect coming out of high school 4 years ago and therefore his career has been a disappointment but he’s having an above average season. He takes the most shots for the Bears when he’s on the floor and most of them will come from behind the arc where he’s decent but not exceptional.

G- Grant Mullins, Sr. 6-3, 175: 9.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 2apg, 43.8% FG, 71.4% FT, 44.4% 3pt

Mullins has been okay but not spectacular in every category for Cal except for his shooting, where he has been very good.

G- Charlie Moore, Fr. 5-11, 170: 15.2ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.4apg, 41.6% FG, 75.9% FT, 40.8% 3pt

Moore is one of many exceptional freshmen point guards in the Pac-12 this season and has been largely overshadowed by Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. He struggles with turnovers as can be expected of most freshman point guards but he’s a great shooter, can draw fouls, and is a good passer.

The Outlook

There are a lot of similarities between this Cal team and the Oregon team that dominated the Huskies up in Seattle which should make UW nervous. Cal’s defense is one of the best in the country. They play a very conservative style and are not going to gamble to force turnovers. Instead they play tight man defense and contest every shot while limiting offensive rebounds.

The Golden Bears are in the top-25 nationally in opposing field goal percentage on both 2’s and 3’s so there’s no obvious weakness. Additionally, they’re 5th in defensive rebounding percentage with two 6-11+ players on the floor at most times to limit second chance points. It’s possible that UW catches fire from deep but otherwise they will struggle to score against Cal.

The difference between Oregon and Cal however is that Cal can have serious offensive problems at times. On that end of the floor, they don’t have a lot of weaknesses but they also don’t have a lot of strengths, finishing close to the national average in a lot of categories. Their biggest flaw is their free throw shooting so if the refs call a tight game that devolves into a free throw shooting contest then UW might have the edge. They’ve also been careless with the ball in several of their losses and so the Huskies have to take advantage of fast break situations.

UW is coming off their first conference win and hopefully it helped instill some confidence in a team that doesn’t have any true veteran leadership. If they’re able to pull off an upset on the road it will require them to put up similar defensive numbers to what they did against Oregon State. That task becomes exponentially more difficult with the injury to Malik Dime who was the only dependable rim protector for UW. Meanwhile, it’s unreasonable to expect the Huskies to score their season average against such a stout defense. I expect the game to run through Cal’s big men who will get UW into foul problems, especially on Cal’s home court, which unfortunately should be enough to handle the Dawgs.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 65, California Golden Bears- 81