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California Golden Bears Basketball vs. UC Davis Aggies Gamethread

Time: 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET
Video: Cal Bears All-Access ($)
Stream: Post links in comments (I believe Channel Surfing had a scoreboard link last year)

So Cal had a pretty interesting Thanksgiving weekend. They upset Atlantic 10 champions Temple to start things off, but they suffered tough defeats against Notre Dame and Boston College. Irrational exuberance meets growing pains, with less Kirk Cameron.

However, Cal returns to Haas, where they look to keep their undefeated home record intact against UC Davis. We talked to Grace Sprague writer for UC Davis's student newspaper, The California Aggie (and you might remember her from our football interview at the beginning of this season!). We discussed tonight's game and what to look for against the Ags. You can check out her own preview of the game here.

Use this thread to discuss the game. GO BEARS!

1. Is the basketball team better than your football team?

Ha ha. Touche! I’ll answer your question with another question: Can the Bears, who managed only five points in the first half against Notre Dame, score more than the football team did against us?

But seriously, Aggie basketball is in a transition year, having lost just about half of last year’s roster. We do, however, have two of the best players in program history, senior guards Joe Harden and Mark Payne.

Also, while like football, our basketball team doesn’t play in a major conference, we have been competitive in the Big West in recent years, earning a fourth seed in last year’s conference tournament.

2. What is your #1 player on offense Cal fans should worry about?


With 23 assists and over 12 points per game, Payne helps lead the Aggie offense, and has even begun to draw some buzz from the NBA.

One thing that makes Payne particularly effective is his combination of size and athleticism that allows him to get to the foul line with frequency. This season, he is 38-for-46 from the charity stripe.

3. What is your #1 player on defense Cal fans should worry about?

Tie: Harden, Payne and freshman Mike Kurtz.

Not only is Harden is the rebound king — 39 on defense this season — he’s continuously all over the place, with three blocks and seven steals.

Payne is UC Davis’ best perimeter defender, and you can expect him to be guarding Cal’s best player.

Even as a freshman, Kurtz is just as much a threat, with 11 defensive boards and nine blocks.

4. How far do you see your team going this year?

That’s hard to say because of how much the roster shifted in the off-season.

However, expectations are high from the coaching staff, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Aggies made a run in conference play. Part of the difficulty of playing in the Big West is that an NCAA Tournament at-large bid is almost impossible to attain, so saying that the NCAA Tournament is a realistic expectation would be a stretch.

That’s not to say that UC Davis doesn’t have what it takes to surprise people and possibly get the conference’s automatic bid. The Aggies will have to contend with a Santa Barbara squad that made the final 64-team field last season, as well as a Long Beach State team that was picked to win the conference in the preseason.

5) How would you attack your team's defense?

Coach Gary Stewart said it best after a win over rival Sac State.

"This is the best defensive club that we’ve had since I’ve been here, this early in the season," he said. "We have been playing pretty good defense for periods of time. We were able to sustain it longer [against the Hornets] than we have been in previous contests."

6) How would you stop your team's offense?

Force the Aggies to attack the basket. The thing the team really lacks at this point in time is an inside presence that could match up against a high-caliber team like Cal in the paint.

Harden is an excellent offensive rebounder and slashes to the basket with ease, but is undersized at 6’-8," and may find it difficult to be effective against superior size. The majority of UC Davis’ offense is generated from mid-range jump shots, though they have shown glimpses of decent touch behind the arc. Forcing them to utilize the forwards more on offense, especially against a strong frontcourt, could be an Achilles heel for this team.