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Previewing Cal MBB vs. UC Davis


NCAA Basketball: California at Duke Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Today the California Golden Bears will take on their agricultural brothers from UC Davis in basketball, as their first game back in Haas Pavilion after a short tour in Madison Square Garden. Not only are fans excited to welcome their Bears back home, they’re also hoping to see an end to the 2-game losing streak (to Duke and Texas) that the Bears spawned while in New York.

The UC Davis Aggies are 2–5 going into this matchup against the Golden Bears, having only picked up games against William Jessup and Idaho (the latter in a very close game 65-64). Last year, Davis went 7-9 in the Big Sky conference, and 11-20 overall. Cal and Davis have met in basketball only twice before, with Cal taking both contests (the most recent in 2016, 86 - 61 Cal). The current coach for the Aggies is Jim Les, who is in his 9th season at Davis.

UC Davis Projected Lineup

#2 Stefan Gonzalez - 6’2” Sr G - 5.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg

Gonzalez transferred from Saint Mary’s and is currently playing in his second season with the Aggies. Last year he hit a career high of 23 points in a game against CSUN.

#5 Ezra Manjon - 5’11” Fr G - 12.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg

From Brentwood CA, Ezra is playing his first season with the Aggies. In high school, he led Heritage HS to a stunning 29-3 record.

#10 Kennedy Koehler - 6’7” Jr F - 5.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4 apg

Kennedy is a fresh transfer from Pima Community College, where he accrued a total of 22 double-doubles (yes, 22!) At Pima, he averaged 26 ppg.

#13 Matt Neufeld - 6’11” Sr C - 14.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 8 apg

Neufeld played for Saint Louis for two years, and last year played his first season at Davis. Neufeld was ranked third among all Big West players last season, and has returned to start this year.

# 40 Elija Pepper - 6’4” Fr G - 4.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Pepper is a freshman from Selah, Washington, but was born in Australia. He led Selah High School to a 24-2 record and was named conference MVP for two years consecutively.

Winning Strategies

1. The confidence boost.

After coming off two tough losses to great teams on the road, the Bears are looking to bounce back at home. Keeping a positive attitude and pressing forward will be key in getting a leg up on Davis.

2. Get the offense going.

The Bears struggled on offense in their last game versus Texas, and by “struggled,” I mean seriously failed to find openings. To be competitive, the Bears have to manufacture scoring opportunities as a team, rather than just trusting in Matt Bradley to get the job done (which he can).

3. Limit Aggie opportunities.

Davis did not look so hot in their last game against Portland, so they will also be trying to get back in their stride against Cal. One of the reasons the Aggies floundered was because of poor shooting. Davis shot 22 for 56 and a measly 6 for 17 from behind the arc. Pushing Davis into tough corners will hopefully make the inaccuracy flare up once again.

Meaningless prediction: Cal 70, UC Davis 60

The game will take place at Haas Pavilion on Tuesday, November 26 at 7:00 PM PT. It will be shown on Pac-12 Network and the KGO 810 AM feed can be streamed on TuneIn radio.

Go Bears!