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Cal Basketball vs. Texas: Preview & Open Thread

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In the Championship Game of the 2K Classic, Cal faces off with Texas looking to start the 2014-15 season with another great win.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

TV: ESPN2

Online: WatchESPN

Time: 4 PM Pacific, 7 PM Eastern

After cancelling Christmas, dissecting the Syracuse zone and serving it at a soccer match with Capri-Sun, and showing that the preseason Pac-12 rankings may have been a little off, Cal faces another test in New York against the 10th-ranked Texas Longhorns.

This is a Texas team that ran through its first two matchups with North Dakota State and Alcorn State, but ran into trouble against Iowa's defense early. They shot 32% and turned the ball over nine times in the first half. The Longhorns proceeded to remember that few good things have come from Iowa and outscored the Hawkeyes 47-27 in the second half. Texas tended to isolate in that first half, and they were bothered by Iowa's size. Once they settled down and started working the ball for better shots during the second half, the onslaught began.

Texas does have frontcourt depth to matchup against anyone in the country, and while the Bears used their size well against the Syracuse bigs, the Longhorn big men have the potential to cause problems against an admittedly smaller group.

Probable Starters:

G (So) Isaiah Taylor 6'1" 170 lbs

G (Jr) Demarcus Holland 6'2" 190 lbs

F (Sr) Johnathan Holmes 6'8" 240 lbs

F (Jr) Connor Lammert 6'9" 240 lbs

C (Jr) Cameron Ridley 6'9" 285 lbs

Key Reserves

F/C (Fr) Myles Turner 6'11" 240 lbs

G (Jr) Javan Felix 5'11" 195 lbs

G (So) Kendal Yancy 6'3" 200 lbs

Notable Players:

Myles Turner is the ballyhooed freshman big man who has a relatively complete game already. He could definitely be a lottery pick if he decides to leave after one year. Why he isn't starting yet is a question that can left to Rick Barnes, who has a bit of a reputation for misusing talent. Jonathan Holmes has developed enough of an outside game for Barnes to play him at the 3, and he will end up being a load for whoever Cuonzo decides to put on him. The center, Ridley has a fair bit of size on Kravish, who will need to stay straight up in order to combat that advantage. Isaiah Taylor injured his wrist against Iowa, and may be out of the lineup in favor of Javan Felix, who subbed for him Thursday night.

Keys to the Game:

1) Exploit the favorable matchups on the perimeter. Our guards match up extremely well height-wise with the Texas guards. Tyrone Wallace has a half a foot of height on Felix, which should be utilized if Texas plays man defense. The size of their frontcourt also allows the Bears to use the speed they have on the perimeter to open up passing lanes and open shots for Matthews and Tarwater.

2) More David Kravish. After a double-double on Thursday, Kravish needs to keep his game going and stand tall against Turner and Ridley. Drawing fouls against these players will also help, so Kravish needs to establish himself as an offensive threat early. Staying out of foul trouble will be difficult against this kind of front-line, so the coaching staff needs to be wary of these matchups.

3) Keep the paint clogged on defense. Texas doesn't have a knockdown 3-point specialist, which can allow the Bears to sag off a little and help on the inside threats, which is absolutely what they should do. Sam Singer has been especially noticeable in help defense, and he will make a couple of steals on Friday night.

4) Remember 2004. Or 2011. Either way, the sins of the football program are the sins of the whole. So go Bears!