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Oregon vs. Cal, Part 2: Preview

Can the Bears exact some revenge while maintaining their perfect record at Haas?

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

When: 6:00 pm PT
TV: ESPN2

When the Bears last met the Ducks, both teams seemed to be evenly matched. Oregon was 11-3 and coming off of a humbling loss to Oregon State. Cal was 12-3, coming off a dominating home sweep of the Mountain schools. We all tended to think that Cal was a little bit better, but faced a tough game on the road in Eugene.

Oregon escaped that night with a 3 point win, and as it turns out, it's one of just two close games the Ducks have played since. Altman's bunch lost a close game on the road at altitude in Boulder . . . and have won every other Pac-12 game - eight in all, all by at least eight points. That includes two wins over Utah, a road win over Arizona, a sweep of the LA schools . . . you get the idea. Oregon is playing really good basketball at the moment, and are currently the favorites to take away the Pac-12 title.

If the Bears want to have any kind of voice in the title race, that makes this game a must win. Even then, the Bears would likely need some help, but at least it keeps them in the conversation. Plus it would be a valuable resume win come March, and preserve Cal's perfect home record. This is a critical swing game, and arguably the 2nd toughest game left on the regular season schedule.

Roster

Starters

PG Casey Benson, 6'3'' Sophomore - Pass first guard rarely shoots, but has been hitting them since conference play began
G Tyler Dorsey, 6'4'' Freshman - Prized recruit is a gifted shooter and foul drawer. High turnover rate.
G Dillon Brooks, 6'6'' Sophomore - Oregon's go-to scorer always a threat to get to the bucket, moderate threat from deep. Has been taking more ball handling responsibilities with success.
F Elgin Cook, 6'6'' Senior - Undersized, average efficiency big man, will Cal go small when he's on the court?
F Chris Boucher, 6'10'' Senior - Probably Oregon's best two way player, an athletic match-up nightmare who gave Cal fits in Eugene

Bench

F Dwayne Benjamin, 6'7'' Senior - Undersized stretch 4, doesn't foul much, shoots more threes than twos.
F Jordan Bell - 6'9'' Sophomore - Back-up post, big time defensive disruptor and rebounder.
G Kendall Small, 6'1'' freshman - Back-up guard who has seen minutes decrease in conference play. Might not see the floor tonight.

When Cal has the ball

Category California
Offense
Oregon
Defense
D-I Avg
Efficiency 104.9 8 101.6 2 103.4
Avg. Poss Length 17.2 7 18.0 12 17.2
Four Factors
Effective FG%: 52.1 4 49.4 6 49.8
Turnover %: 19.8 11 19.7 4 18.4
Off. Reb. %: 29.5 7 31.9 9 29.9
FTA/FGA: 42.9 1 37.5 5 36.8
Miscellaneous Components
3P%: 37.7 3 35.5 7 34.6
2P%: 49.9 5 47.5 5 48.6
FT%: 67.5 11 68.8 2 69.7
Block%: 9.5 6 15.3 1 9.2
Steal%: 8.4 8 9.8 4 8.7
Style Components
3PA/FGA: 32.9 5 32.0 9 35.3
A/FGM: 50.8 8 55.0 9 52.7

When Oregon has the ball

Category Oregon
Offense
California
Defense
D-I Avg
Efficiency 114.0 2 102.2 5 103.4
Avg. Poss Length 16.9 5 17.7 10 17.2
Four Factors
Effective FG%: 53.7 2 44.6 1 49.8
Turnover %: 15.4 3 14.3 11 18.4
Off. Reb. %: 32.8 5 29.2 4 29.9
FTA/FGA: 34.4 11 45.6 10 36.8
Miscellaneous Components
3P%: 36.2 5 33.1 2 34.6
2P%: 53.3 2 43.1 1 48.6
FT%: 70.7 8 72.5 9 69.7
Block%: 8.1 2 10.8 5 9.2
Steal%: 6.0 2 6.2 10 8.7
Style Components
3PA/FGA: 35.5 2 23.0 1 35.3
A/FGM: 48.5 10 45.5 3 52.7

Our Computer Overlords Predict

Kenpom: Oregon 74, Cal 73, 53% chance of an Oregon win

Sagarin Predictor: Tie

Well, that's a new one. Our fickle computer overlords aren't willing to take a strong stand on this one. Expect heart palpitations

Keys to the game

1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.

Cal turned the ball over 18 times in Eugene, and just a little bit more ball control likely would have earned the Bears a critical road win. The blame was spread all around the roster - nine different players had at least one turnover. Oregon brought plenty of ball pressure, and as a result Sam Singer and Jaylen Brown will have to be at their very best just to run our offense.

2. Keep Oregon off the glass

Offensive rebounds and put backs were a critical element of Oregon's win over Cal earlier, and the Bears face a tough matchup choice. It's tough for them to match up offensively and defensively when playing a traditional center against Oregon's speed and shooting. But when they play small, Oregon can then crash the glass on offense. Which poison will Cal pick, and can they scheme to paper over those potential weaknesses during the game?

3. Can Ivan and Jaylen go off again?

Cal's freshman duo combined to shoot 15-18 on 2 point shots and a combined 37 points against the Ducks on the road. We talk about Oregon's matchup problems, but Cal has players that can create problems all their own. I'm not particularly convinced Oregon has good answers to stopping either Jaylen or Ivan, other than "force a turnover before they can get a shot off." (which brings us back to Key #1.) May the freshmen make plays!

4. Kod5

Oregon from 3 in Eugene: 7-21. Cal from 3 in Eugene: 0-12. God, how frustrating it was that our best performance on the road was such a close loss in the first road game of the conference season. Need more this time.