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California 75, Murray State 70: Defense And Free Throws Carry The Day

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Give credit to Murray State. They battled us right through the first half, then came back from what seemed like an insurmountable late deficit to make everyone fritter. Their team is really good as rags indicated, probably one of the best mid-majors in the country. Don't be shocked to see them earn a #14/#15 seed come March.

Still, from an aesthetic standpoint, it wasn't the most impressive win in the world for the Bears, and Jerome Randle continued to struggle (4/12 shooting, again nearly a 1:1 assist-turnover ratio); Isiah Canaan battled him hard and really didn't let him rest out there. The offense was out of sync, they were slow to run out on the 3 point line (they conceded everything from downtown to prevent the penetration to the paint, and gave up 24 points from downtown), and there were too many awkward-looking shots that I'd like to forget.

But the defense picked up when it needed to, holding Murray State down during the middle part of the game, and the offense broke out of its malaise to break it open in the second half. The Bears forced 17 turnovers, a huge improvement over last season, they found a way to get to the foul line (32 free throw attempts to Murray State's 15), Randle made up for his ugly shooting with 10 big free throws, and the zone held. Sometimes, you gotta win ugly.

The Bears are 1-0! Our game against Detroit is this Wednesday.

Vote for your star of the night! Discuss the game here.