Thanks to multiple injuries across the roster, the California Bears have started nine different players in five games this season. A very favorable schedule has kept them at 4-1 through the struggles, but they will need to get healthy and comfortable before the middle of next month, when the competition really picks up.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have played some harder foes in their early going and have found it hard to generate offense. This game between the two should be a defensive battle, favoring the better athletes.
Louisiana Tech Roster
G Jacobi Boykins - 6'6", Jr.
G Derric Jean - 6'2", So.
G Qiydar Davis - 6'6", Sr.
F Erik McCree - 6'8", Sr
F Omar Sherman - 6'9", JR
G Jalen Harris - 6'4", Fr.
G Daquan Bracey - 5'11", Fr.
Oliver Powell - 6'8", Fr.
Joniah, White - 7'0", Jr.
1: Stoic Defense
California has been winning this season by crashing the boards and making it hard for opponents to score the basketball. It has the seventh-best rebounding margin in the country and is holding the opposition to 37.5 percent shooting and just 62.2 points per game. Though the Golden Bears are averaging 72 points per game, their defense is playing well enough to overcome it.
2: Protect Home Court
Cal is 4-0 at home this year and won't play a true road game until January. Louisiana Tech, coming from Conference USA, has already played two road games, losing both. Those games double as the two toughest opponents the Bulldogs have faced, but it is never easy playing in someone else's arena.
2: Crash the Boards
Cal will also hold a huge rebounding edge in this matchup. It is a real strength for the Golden Bears and a weakness for Tech thanks to a starting lineup that includes three guards and no starter over 6'9". The Bulldogs should also find it hard to convert baskets against the long California defense. Even against somewhat middling competition, Louisiana Tech is shooting 45.4 percent from the floor, which ranks 144th in the country.
3: A Healthy Rabb
If that wasn't enough to give Cal a real edge, the Golden Bears are also seeing their best player return to game shape. Ivan Rabb - a preseason All-American, who has been on everyone’s radar since being recruited from Oakland, CA - missed the start of the season with a sprained toe. He has played in three games, starting twice, but has admitted he still isn't feeling like his normal self quite yet.
Even a non-normal Rabb is scary good, though. He has three double-doubles in three games, and there is likely no Bulldog player who will be able to contain him as he gets back to 100 percent. If he puts on some muscle theres no reason he can’t be a star at the next level, mimicking a similar game to the Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge.
4: Reserves Step-Up
Fortunately for the visitors, Jabari Bird is going to miss this game with back spasms. Kameron Rooks is also going to be out after suffering a knee injury. They are two of Cal's better rebounders and players. Their absences at least open the door up for Louisiana Tech finding success inside.
Meaningless Prediction: Cal 74 - LT 59
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