The Mark Fox era is off to a solid start. The California Golden Bears men’s basketball program has a 3-0 record following their 82-62 win over Cal Baptist on Friday. The 2K Empire Classic continues as the Bears host the Prairie View A&M Panthers. In case you were wondering, Prairie View, Texas is in the Houston metropolitan area. Head coach Byron Smith has made the Panthers a force in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. They come into play at 1-3 but went 22-12 last season, winning the regular season SWAC title by virtue of a 17-1 mark in conference play. Prairie View also took the conference tournament title but fell to Fairleigh Dickinson in the First Four portion of the NCAA Tournament. Like Cal Baptist, the Panthers recently lost to #25 Texas. This time, the score was 70-56 in favor of the Longhorns.
Prairie View A&M
#0 Lenell Henry - 6’8” Jr F - 7.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.0 spg
A Chicago native, Henry transferred in from Panola College in Carthage, Texas. He led the team in scoring against Texas but committed eight turnovers.
#4 Antione Lister - 6’3” Sr G - 7.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.5 spg
Lister’s role has expanded from last season, which was his first at Prairie View after transferring from Blinn College. He has shown the ability to knock down threes when given the opportunity.
#15 Gerard Andrus - 6’5” Sr G - 9.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.3 spg
Andrus is another community college transfer who grew up in Louisiana. He was 4-for-4 from the floor against the Longhorns but found himself in foul trouble which limited him to 15 minutes played.
#3 Chancellor Ellis - 6’4” Sr G - 14.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.5 apg
Ellis grew up in Queens, New York but first played college ball at New Mexico State. He has taken a big step forward from averaging just 12 minutes per game for the Panthers last season.
#1 Dajuan Madden - 6’2” Jr G - 4.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.0 apg
Madden is a native of Baltimore and played at Coastal Bend College in Texas. He had an eventful game on Friday with eight points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.
#35 Jonathan Jackson - 6’6” Jr F - 3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.8 spg
This is Jackson’s first year as a Panther after a stint at Ranger College in Texas. His debut went well as he racked up eight points against Jarvis Christian.
#12 Faite Williams - 6’2” So G - 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.3 spg
Williams has struggled with his shot so far this season. He scored 17.8 points per game at Clear Springs High School but played sparingly as a freshman.
#2 Darius Williams - 6’0” Sr G - 8.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 spg
The man from Augusta, Georgia was a big scorer at Paris JC in Texas and averaged 8.6 points last season despite only receiving 18 minutes per game.
1. Play in the paint.
The Bears are just above average in terms of player height, but they certainly have an advantage over the Panthers. Lars Thiemann is a seven-footer and has averaged 15 minutes per game so far. He might be deserving of a bit more court time against a team full of guards. Prairie View is close to the worst rebounding team in Division I with 31.3 per contest.
2. Relax and let it fly.
The strength of schedule may not be particularly high, but Cal has scored 82.7 points per game in the early going which is 59th in the nation. Their adjusted offensive rating is 101.1 compared to 92.4 for Prairie View. The Panthers have been held to 68.3 points per game thus far. Basically, the Bears don’t need to attempt anything fancy in order to have a pretty sizable advantage when it comes to scoring. That’s especially true if Grant Anticevich continues to scorch the nets like he did in shooting 5-for-5 from behind the arc against Cal Baptist.
3. Control the ball.
The two biggest reasons that an upset could occur are a hot shooting night for Prairie View or too many mistakes committed by the Golden Bears. Cal has averaged fewer than 12 turnovers per game, and the home team should be fine if they can stay within that range during this one. On the other side, the Panthers have been awful at making the most of possessions and have a 27.7% turnover rate.
4. He’s not our chancellor.
Chancellor Ellis was relatively quiet during his last game in Austin, but he torched UCF for 29 points and shot 8-of-12 from long range. Ellis has made at least two triples in every game so far and is 15-of-30 this season. Overall, strong perimeter defense will be important to avoid letting the Panthers hang around. They are shooting 38.8% on three-pointers.
Meaningless prediction: Cal 84, Prairie View A&M 74
Ken Pomeroy expects an 87% probability of a Cal win. The game will take place at Haas Pavilion on Monday, November 18 at 7:00 PM PT. It will be shown on Pac-12 Bay Area and the KGO 810 AM feed can be streamed on TuneIn radio.