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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 18, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (11,877) -- Berkeley, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Southern Utah 1-0, California 3-0. Away Record: Southern Utah 0-1, California 0-1. Neutral Record: Southern Utah 0-0, California 0-0. Conference Record: Southern Utah 0-0, California 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The California Golden Bears will finish up a season-opening four- game homestand on Monday when they host the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in non- conference action at Haas Pavilion.
It has been an even split for Southern Utah through the first two games of the season. After beginning the year with an 85-78 win over NAIA foe Arizona Christian, the Thunderbirds went on the road for the first time but came away with a 90-57 loss to Utah State. Playing well on the road was not a strength for the Thunderbirds last year when they managed just two wins in 14 trips away from home.
Even though Oakland was playing without Duke Mondy, California still struggled on Friday against the Golden Grizzlies, narrowly escaping with a 64-60 victory. The win was the third straight for California to begin the year with the other triumphs coming in decisions over Denver (77-50) and Coppin State (83-64). California didn't exactly dominate at Haas Pavilion last season when it went 11-5 at home, but the Golden Bears still enjoy a relatively strong homecourt advantage.
On Monday these teams will be meeting for the first time ever on the hardwood.
The Thunderbirds were miserable on both ends of the floor against Utah State. They shot at just a 30.2 percent clip, failing to reach double-digit field goals in either half, while letting the Aggies connect on 58.3 percent of their attempts. The Thunderbirds also had half as many rebounds (44-22) as the Aggies.
Two games isn't a very large sample size, but thus far defense has not been a strong part of Southern Utah's attack. The Thunderbirds are letting up 84 points per game on 53.4 percent shooting to their first two foes. Meanwhile, they are only putting in 38.5 percent of their shots and struggling mightily on the glass (29 rpg). Trey Kennedy (11.0 ppg) is the leading scorer and the only starter in both games to be averaging in double figures. Kennedy finished with 11 points against Utah State, which was a team-high. Juwan Major (10.0 ppg) and Cal Hanks (10.0 ppg) have each been shooting better than 50 percent from the field as solid scorers off the bench. Case Oliverson (5.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) isn't scoring much, but he is the best performer on the glass.
Jabari Bird scored 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including makes on 6-of-8 shots from beyond the arc, to help the Golden Bears overcome Oakland. The Golden Bears limited the Golden Grizzlies to 36.7 percent shooting in the second half and used a 19-7 advantage in points from the free-throw line to secure the win.
Bird, Justin Cobbs and Tyrone Wallace form quite a backcourt trio for the Golden Bears. Bird (15.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is off to a fast start to his career with California has the freshman is the leading scorer thus far. Cobbs (13.0 ppg, 5.7 apg) may be happy to allow Bird to keep being the primary option as he excelled as the primary distributor for the team last year when Allen Crabbe was still running the floor in Berkeley. Cobbs scored 13 points against Oakland even though he hit just 2-of-8 shots from the field. Wallace (12.0 ppg, 3.3 apg) is another sturdy scorer and passer, while Richard Solomon (10.0 ppg, 14.3 rpg) and David KRavish (9.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) have been impressive down low.
With Bird rising, the Golden Bears have one of the most well-rounded starting lineups in the country. Depth is a bit of an issue, but against Southern Utah that weakness won't be exposed.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 74, Southern Utah 60
11/18 10:33:24 ET
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