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Cal Basketball Looks to Bounce Back Against Santa Clara

Golden Bears look for their first nonconference away victory since 2017

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-California vs Colorado
Matt Bradley is averaging 13.3 points this season for Cal.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The California Golden Bears (5-3) may find some difficulties in the road this afternoon against the Santa Clara Broncos (8-2). The Broncos are on the hunt for revenge after the Nevada Wolf Pack ended the Broncos’ five-game win streak Wednesday night.

The Golden Bears have not won a non-conference road game since Dec. 19, 2017, an 81-59 victory against the Seattle Redhawks.

California faithful should look to see if Coach Mark Fox has inspired some discipline this afternoon. In their last game out, an on-the-road blowout of more than 20 points by the San Francisco Dons, the Golden Bears gave up 15 turnovers, many of them careless mistakes. Worst still, two Cal players lost their tempers at one another during a timeout late in that game. To defeat a Santa Clara side, which has won its last eight home games, the Golden Bears will need to be more cohesive as a team.

California leads the series with Santa Clara 44-28. In their last meeting, on Nov. 26, 2018, the Golden Bears beat the Broncos 78-66 in Haas Pavilion.

The Golden Bears and the Broncos tip off at 2 p.m. Pacific Saturday from Santa Clara, Calif. The game will be broadcast on the WCC Network and the California Golden Bears Sports Network on KGO 810 AM.

Golden Strategies

1. Cut off the Broncos’ ball movement.

The bulk of Santa Clara’s points this season have come from assists. The Broncos lead the country with total assists (176), including 45 assists on 82 field goal attempts in just the last three games. All of the passing has also allowed four Broncos—Trey Wertz (11.1 points), Guglielmo Caruso (10.8 points), Wake Forest transfer DJ Mitchell (10.4 points) and Tajh Eaddy (10 points)—to spread the wealth and all average double-figure contributions this season.

2. Shoot from downtown.

In their last time out, the Broncos struggled to defend against the three, allowing Nevada to sink 14 treys on 28 attempts. Matt Bradley and Grant Anticevich have been shooting lights-out from beyond the arc this season. California ranks No. 11 in the country in three-pointers with a 41.6% success rate with 47 treys on 113 attempts. Anticevich, in particular, has been a significant contributor, and the Golden Bears will do well if he steps up from the perimeter.

3. Dominate the boards.

The Broncos trailed their entire game against Nevada, in part because they were outrebounded a whopping 37 to 52 against the Wolf Pack. Denying Santa Clara’s opportunistic pass-heavy starters second-chance opportunities will be important Saturday.

Projected Santa Clara Broncos Starters

Trey Wertz, guard: 11.1 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game

Tahj Eaddy, guard: 10 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game

Guglielmo Caruso, forward: 10.8 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 0.6 assists per game

DJ Mitchell, forward: 10.4 points per game, five rebounds per game, 1.9 assists per game

Josip Vrankic, forward: 9.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 3.4 assists per game

Key Santa Clara Broncos Reserves

Jalen Williams, guard: 7.6 points per game, 1.8 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists per game

David Thompson, guard: 3.1 points per game, 1.4 rebounds per game, 1.9 assists per game

Keshawn Justice, forward: six points per game, 2.2 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists per game

Jaden Bediako, center: 5.4 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 0.5 assists per game