Cal Men's Basketball v. University of New Mexico Open Thread

Tonight, we have the game against the Lobos.  Could be a tough one.  Here is the broadcast info:

California Golden Bears (4-2) at New Mexico Lobos (6-0)
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 6:00 p.m. (PT), The Pit, Albuquerque, N.M.
Radio: KFRC 1550 AM TV: CBS College
Line: New Mexico favored by 5.5 (HT 33SwisherSweet)

Injury report: Theo Robertson (out), Harper Kamp (possibly redshirting and out for season), Patrick Christopher (supposedly playing with the flu, not confirmed), Omondi Amoke (playing with the flu), Jorge Gutierrez (playing with the flu), Markhuri Sanders-Frison (playing, but has lost 10 pounds)

Pomeroy ratings: Cal 25th, New Mexico 16th
. Yes, SIXTEENTH. Ugh.

Use this thread to discuss all the action between Cal and UNM. If you want stream updates, I'll try and find something for you guys before tipoff--the link will be in the comments. GO BEARS!

After the jump, New Mexico fritters about this big matchup, while Monty constantly is forced to tinker with new lineups.

Due to the injuries and general sickness and malaise surrounding our team, Coach Montgomery has been forced to mix and match according to Jeff Goodman of the Daily Cal. Those of us who watched the Princeton game saw some interesting lineups, and we might see more of that tonight.

Because of injuries and illnesses to several of his players, Montgomery has made several adjustments in an attempt to alleviate the Cal men's basketball team's current lack of depth.

He's altered the Bears' starting five several times, more by necessity than by choice.

He's also called upon players like D.J. Seeley and Nikola Knezevic to replace forward Theo Robertson and guard Jorge Gutierrez in the regular rotation.

Reserves and starters alike -- Max Zhang, Jamal Boykin, even Jerome Randle -- are taking on new roles.

"Max played more minutes (on Sunday) than he normally would," Montgomery said. "Jamal played over to the five ... That would not be the norm."

Montgomery is even considering moving Randle off the ball and allowing freshman Brandon Smith to bring the ball up the floor and run the offense.

"Brandon is a good facilitator," Montgomery said. "He's a natural point guard. It would give us a different look."

Once Robertson returns from his foot injury -- the senior has been running on a treadmill with 90-percent weight and will continue rehabbing during the Bears' short trip to Albuquerque, N.M., for tonight's non-conference game against New Mexico (6-0) -- Montgomery might try him in a lineup with Smith, Randle, swingman Patrick Christopher and one post player. It would keep three perimeter shooters on the court and, potentially, take some pressure off of Randle.

Many Cal fans are nervous about venturing into the Pit to take on this 6-0 team.  But surprisingly, Lobos fans are nervous, too, about this game:

The Lobos haven't exactly been challenged in The Pit, but have staged two gutsy wins on the road - at NMSU and at Hawaii. The Lobos have posted their unblemished 6-0 record with a smooth combination of focused offense and rock-hard defense.

The defense surely will come in handy against Randle, Christopher and Jamal Boykin, a hot-shooting 6-foot-8 senior forward. So far, the young Lobos = one senior on the roster, period - have been all ears (and moving feet) when it comes to Alford's message about how much he likes to see his Lobos play defense.

"Our defense has been killer," said [star guard Jamal] Fenton. "Coach Alford is such a competitor and the athlete in him comes out and we feed off that. When I came here, I knew the Lobos would have scorers, so I felt I needed to bring something else and I decided it would be defense. I have no problem playing defense."

Fenton, fast becoming a Pit crowd pleaser, helps provide exactly what the Lobos need in their upset bid against Cal: a spark to spark The Pit. "I hope I can do that," Fenton said of rallying The Pit. "When they are behind us and loud, it makes a big difference."

Alford obviously has seen a few areas in which his young Lobos need to improve. Mostly, they need game time and on-the-court challenges. UNM has one senior, Roman Martinez, and one junior, Dairese Gary, who saw action as a Lobo in 2008-09.

But these pups haven' been puppy-like so far. They won by 10 points at NMSU. They won by 12 at Hawaii. Their closest call in The Pit was 16 points over Cal Riverside.

Alford said his Lobos were a little unfocused in the first half at Hawaii, but shouldn't have that problem against a ranked team out of the prestigious Pac-10. Martinez agrees.

"This is a huge challenge," said the El Paso product. "We're not going to just show up and beat a Top 25 team. They are athletic and big and we'll have to show up with our A-game.

"Cal's a great team and they can score in bunches. It's important for us to take their best shot when it comes, and keep on fighting."

The Lobos haven't played a ranked team in The Pit since No. 15 Air Force on Jan. 9, 2007. That was an 8-point loss. UNM's last win over a ranked team was Feb. 21, 2005 over No. 13 Utah, 65-54.

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