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Previewing Cal MBB vs. Seattle

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The Bears take on the Redhawks of the WAC.

NCAA Basketball: Legends Classic
Justice Sueing and the Bears look to improve to 6-6.
Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

After defeating San Jose State last Friday, the California Golden Bears men’s basketball team will face the 11-3 Seattle Redhawks at Haas Pavilion on Saturday night. Paris Austin collected a season-high 11 assists against the Spartans which was important because the Bears struggled defensively. Meanwhile, Seattle has allowed the 26th lowest effective field-goal percentage in Division I. To be fair, the Redhawks performed well in that area last season and Cal still prevailed 81-59 in Seattle back on November 19, 2017. Seattle has faced many unremarkable opponents so far but did chalk up a 78-69 victory over Washington State.

Seattle

Projected lineup

#1 Myles Carter - 6’9” Jr F - 14.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.6 bpg

Carter is a transfer from Seton Hall who has provided interior defense along with 60% shooting from the field.

#13 Morgan Means - 6’3” Jr G - 16.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.7 apg

Means has been excellent from long range this season in hitting 46% of his 74 three-point attempts and can take on the playmaker role as well.

#23 Terrell Brown - 6’1” So G - 10.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.5 apg

The team’s chief facilitator, Brown is also outstanding on the glass for someone of his size.

#5 Matej Kavas - 6’8” Jr G - 14.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 apg

The Slovenian Kavas is another guy to watch when he gets behind the arc. He has failed to score in double figures only twice this campaign.

#24 Delante Jones - 6’5” Jr G - 11.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 apg

Jones played two seasons at American University in Washington, DC before transferring. So far, he has put up very similar numbers in the Pacific Northwest.

Key reserves

#10 Aaron Nettles - 5’11” So G - 4.6 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.9 spg

Nettles is an impressive 17-33 from three-point land this season but head coach Jim Hayford only uses him sparingly.

#35 Riley Grigsby - 6’6” Fr G - 3.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.9 bpg

Grigsby scored 11 points in a December 6 rout of Omaha, but he doesn’t normally get to provide much outside of boards.

Winning strategies

1. Test the depth.

Only 15.5% of Seattle’s minutes come from the bench, which is the lowest percentage in Division I. The Redhawks have largely gotten away with that against weak competition, but Cal gets to the free throw line quite often. If the Bears can get Seattle into foul trouble, it will expose the reserves that Hayford is so hesitant to deploy.

2. Keep firing.

A season after hitting 28.6% of three-point attempts, the Bears are up to 38.4% this year which is very close to their conversion rate from the San Jose State game. A prior team weakness has become a strength so far in non-conference play, and head coach Wyking Jones should continue to exploit it.

3. Don’t be afraid of the Sixth Man.

Matt Bradley has been very efficient off the bench in his freshman season. Against the Spartans, he played just 22 minutes but went 7-7 on free throws and 3-4 from downtown for a total of 17 points. Especially while Connor Vanover is sidelined, Jones has no reason not to give Bradley every reserve minute he can spare.

4. Prevent frustration.

As mentioned earlier, Seattle has done a good job in terms of field-goal percentage allowed so nobody should panic if Cal gets off to a slow start. However, the Redhawks don’t force many turnovers and do concede a high volume of free throw attempts. In addition, many of their wins have come against teams like 1-10 Prairie View A&M. If the Bears stay aggressive on offense, they should be rewarded eventually.

Meaningless prediction: California 74, Seattle 70

Ken Pomeroy calls this matchup close to a toss-up, with the Bears 52% likely to win. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks/Pac-12 Bay Area on Saturday, December 29 at 5:00 PM PT. The KGO 810 AM stream is available on TuneIn radio.

Go Bears!