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Cal Basketball vs. Alcorn State Preview and Open Thread

Game on. The season tips off for real as Cal hosts Alcorn State in the first round of the 2K Classic.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the Alcorn State Braves finished 6th in the SWAC with a 12-19 record. However, they were a young team and several newcomers had breakout seasons. For the upcoming campaign, junior swingman LeAntwan Luckett has been tabbed as the pre-season SWAC Player of the Year.

On offense, the Braves don't shoot a lot of threes, probably because they're not particularly good at making them. Their playbook can be effectively summarized as "give it to Luckett and get out of the way." He was top-10 nationally in %Poss and top-15 in %Shots. Not surprisingly, Alcorn State doesn't tend to generate a lot of assists on made field goals. Brown and Vance are their other two leading scorers and each averaged in double digits.

Defensively, the Braves mix it up between zone and man. They like to apply pressure up front to force tempo and mistakes.

Probable Starters:
Octavius Brown(Sr), 6'8, 210 lbs
Marquis Vance(So), 6'7, 225 lbs
LeAntwan Luckett(Jr), 6'4, 184 lbs
Devonte Hampton(Jr), 6'1, 170 lbs

Keys to the Game:

1) Lock down Luckett
It'll be a good test for the newly defensive-minded Bears to see if we can slow down an elite scorer. As much as I'd love for Jabari Bird to be up for this, it'll probably be Ty Wallace that draws the initial assignment.

2) Steady at the point

It's an early test for our new point guards, Wallace and Singer, to make good decisions in the face of ball pressure.  There should be scoring opportunities in transition, but we need to pick the smart play.  In the half-court, if we're patient with our ball movement, there shouldn't be anyone inside who can match-up well against Kravish.

3)  Own the glass

Perhaps the biggest question mark for our squad is whether we'll be able to consistently protect the defensive glass.  Coach Martin wants to run and he'd love to be able to use a four-guard lineup.  For this to work, we've got to be able to board.

Tip-off:  7pm

TV:  Pac-12 Networks