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Cal Men's Basketball Preview: Sam Houston State

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The Bearkats are coming! The Bearkats are coming!

Block Party
Block Party
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Its the start of Thanksgiving week, and what better way to start the week than with a game of #15 California hosting Sam Houston State at Haas Pavilion!

The squad began its campaign in the Las Vegas Invitational with a win over East Carolina last Friday night. Cal won, but was severely underperforming on the offensive end, only shooting 43.6% from the field and an abysmal 13% from beyond the arc. It did not help we were 61.3% from the Free Throw line as well. The fact that we won despite an underwhelming offensive performance speaks volumes of the tenacity and heart of this team. This leads us to tonight against the Sam Houston State BEARKATS. (Not a typo its Bearcats with a K.)

First, lets take a look at the Bearkats record and statistics.

The Bearkats are currently 1-2 and 5th in the Southland Conference. They started their season with a 85-50 loss at SMU, but came back and dropped 114 on the St. Thomas (Texas) Celts. Their most recent game was a 86-81 OT loss to Southern Illinois.

Statistically this should be an easy game for the Golden Bears.

Offense: The Bearkats only shoot 45.1% from the field but are actually worse at the FT line at 58%. They only shoot 30.4% from beyond the arc as well. They really aren't a 3PT shooting team, and their offensive distribution mirrors that at a 60/40 split favoring shots within the arc. Other statistics of note is that their shots get blocked at a rate of 14.9% and get the ball stolen at a rate of 13.4%. In other words, Ivan will have a field day on the defensive end, and Ty with Jaylen should get a lot of fast break opportunities.

Defense: Sam Houston State has allowed opponents to shoot 62.1% from the field. When delving deeper into their defense, the Bearkats have allowed 50% from beyond the arc, and 56.3% from inside the arc. Getting open looks shouldn't be the issue like against ECU, making those shots count and punishing them for open looks will be key. They also only block shots at a rate of 4.2% so it's safe to assume that they do not have any real shot blocking threats on their roster.

Second, Let's take a look at Sam Houston State's Starting 5 and Key Players

Starting 5:

G Dakarai Henderson - 6'2"/JR/20.7PPG/2.3RPG/1.0APG

G Jalin Barnes - 6'1"/FR/5.7PPG/2.7RPG/3.0APG

G Jamal Williams - 6'4"/7.0PPG/5.3RPG/3.7APG

G Ameer Jackson - 6'4"/13.7PPG/2.0RPG/1.7APG

F Aurimas Majauskas - 6'7"/JR/13.7PPG/5.7RPG/1.7APG

Bench Contributors:

G Jovante' Spivey - 6'0"/JR/5.3PPG/0.3RPG/2.3APG

F Albert Almanza - 6'5"/SO/2.0PPG/2.0RPG/0.7APG

C Andre Sands - 6'8"/JR/3.0PPG/2.3RPG/0.7APG

F Torry Butler - 6'5"/JR/5.0PPG/8.0RPG/2/0APG

The Bearkats' main offensive threat is Junior Guard, Dakar Henderson, who is currently averaging 20.7 points through 3 games. The offense may be scoring through him but is played through Ameer Jackson, who has the ball in his hands 28.2% of the time. Latvian Forward Aurimas Majauskas rounds out Sam Houston States big 3 as their third leading scorer at 13.7PPG. After these 3 players the Bearkats have a plethora of contributors that are good role players such as F Torry Butler who leads the team in rebounding.

Time for Rob's Report to Winning:

  • Be Physical - Jaylen Brown will have a size and speed advantage over every player he matches up with on offense and defense. Ivan Rabb won't have any competition in terms of size to dominate the boards. Tyrone Wallace will also be able to beat every guard that they put on him. With our big 3 dominating in the physicality department, I expect them to fill the stat sheet and also put on some flair with fast-break dunks and put-back dunks
  • Know Your Personnel - Only 3 players on Sam Houston State scores in double digits. No one else on the team averages above 6PPG. If our defense forces the ball out of their biggest offensive threats and only allows role players to take 3PT shots, the game should flow to us and our tempo early on in the game.
  • Get The Ball Moving - The Bears' offense sometimes was complacent with perimeter passing and playing iso basketball, with Sam Houston State playing a Man Defense, Cal should be able to take advantage of the interior matchups early, forcing the Bearkats to change their defense to a zone. Instead of driving and kicking the Bears should focus on passing from the perimeter to the post and back and allow our players to play to their strengths. Once we can establish the post and outside shot, Ty, Jaylen and Jabari will be able to get to the rim without fail.

California Rising. California Love

TV: PAC12 Networks
Radio: KGO 810
Tip Off: 8PM