Bears Open Pac-10 Second Half at Oregon State

Jan. 31, 2006

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California Golden Bears (12-6, 6-3) at Oregon State Beavers (10-10, 3-6)
Thursday, Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m., Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: Fox Sports Net

California at Oregon Ducks (10-11, 4-5, vs. Stanford Feb. 2)
Saturday, Feb. 4, 5 p.m., McArthur Court, Eugene, OR
Radio: KYCY (1550 AM)
TV: Comcast SportsNet

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California begins the second half of the Pac-10 schedule where the 2005-06 conference season started - on the road. This week, the Golden Bears travel up the coast to face Oregon State Thursday and Oregon Saturday.

Back in December, Cal opened its league slate at USC and UCLA and came away with a pair of victories. Now sporting a 3-2 conference record in opponent venues, the Bears have already equaled their Pac-10 road win total from a year ago when they were 3-6 outside Haas Pavilion.

Sophomore F Leon Powe, who leads the Pac-10 in rebounding with 10.4 per game, has recorded five straight double-doubles for Cal. Over that stretch, he has averaged 12.2 rpg, with a high of 13 against both Arizona and Washington.

Powe also paces the conference with nine double-doubles for the season, after recording a Pac-10-best 14 doubles as a freshman. He is on pace to become the first Bear to average at least 10 points and 10 boards since Brian Hendrick in 1991-92 (16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg).

In the backcourt, the guard trio of senior Richard Midgley, junior Ayinde Ubaka and sophomore Omar Wilkes has proven adept at taking care of the basketball, as the Bears are committing a conference-low 12.6 turnovers per outing. They are also combining to shoot 41.6 percent from three-point distance.

Ubaka is pouring in 15.0 ppg to rate eighth in the league in scoring. He set his career best with 29 points in the first meeting with Oregon in January, while he has elevated his assist average to 5.3 apg over the last three games.

Midgley, after a 15-point effort vs. WSU, has moved up to 23rd on Cal's all-time scoring list with 1,091 points. He also ranks second in school history with 168 three-pointers.

At the wing, freshman Theo Robertson has experienced a resurgence of late, averaging 9.3 ppg over his past four games, while shooting 52.0 percent from the floor (13-25) and 88.9 percent from the free throw line (8-9). In his previous five Pac-10 games, Robertson scored just two points and was 1-for-6 from the field.

Probable Starters & Key ReservesPOS  NO   NAME              HT    WT   YR    PPG    RPGF    44   Leon Powe        6-8   240   So   19.2   10.4C    35   DeVon Hardin    6-11   235   So    8.5    6.9G     1   Ayinde Ubaka     6-4   200   Jr   15.0    3.9 apgG     2   Omar Wilkes      6-4   185   So    9.3    1.6G    15   Richard Midgley  6-3   195   Sr   10.1    2.8

Cal Head Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), the second-winningest coach in Cal history, is in his 10th year in Berkeley and 29th season as a collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 178-116, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 511-351. The 1997 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and one of 25 finalists for the 2003 Naismith National Coach of the Year award, Braun has led the Bears to the postseason six times in his first nine years. After taking Cal to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1997, he guided the Bears to the NIT championship in 1999 and to the NIT quarterfinals in 2000. He also directed Cal to consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 2001, '02 and '03. At EMU from 1985-96, the three-time MAC Coach of the Year guided the Eagles to three NCAA Tournaments and one NIT appearance with an overall record of 185-132. He was also 148-103 from 1977-85 at Siena Heights. A native of Chicago, Braun earned a teaching degree in English with a minor in African-American studies at Wisconsin in 1975. He received his master's degree in guidance and counseling from Siena Heights.

Oregon State Scouting Report

A Look at Oregon State
Oregon State is just 1-3 at home in Pac-10 play, but the one victory was a 75-65 win over Arizona and two of the losses came in overtime - 65-63 to Arizona State and 72-70 to USC. The Beavers boast two players shooting higher than 47 percent from three-point range - Chris Stephens (47.1%, 33-70) and Sasa Cuic (48.8%, 20-41). OSU is also holding opponents to only 41.3 percent from the floor and 31.2 percent from three-point range.

Cal-Oregon State Series History
Cal holds a 68-56 series lead over Oregon State, although the Beavers have taken the last two: 82-63 last Feb. 26 in Corvallis and 72-64 on Jan. 7 in Berkeley. Prior to those two victories, the Bears won 14 straight games between the schools and 17 of 18 from 1997-2005.

Oregon State Head Coach Jay John
Jay John has a 52-56 record in his fourth season at Oregon State. Last year, he guided the Beavers to their first winning record since 1990 (17-15) and a berth in the NIT. Prior to taking the reins of the OSU program, he served as a collegiate assistant for 15 years.

For more information: www.osubeavers.com

Oregon Scouting Report

A Look at Oregon
Oregon completes a stretch of six home dates in eight games when the Ducks host Cal Saturday. After winning three straight against Arizona State, Arizona and Washington State in mid-January, Oregon has lost its past three. Malik Hairston paces the squad with 14.4 ppg and is shooting 41.2 percent from three-point distance, while Aaron Brooks has 100 assists in 21 games and has picked off a team-high 26 steals.

Cal-Oregon Series History
Cal owns a 68-51 all-time record vs. Oregon, including a 77-66 victory Jan. 5 when the Bears' Ayinde Ubaka set a career high with 29 points and Leon Powe tied a career best with 27 points. The Ducks have claimed the past two decisions in Eugene - 63-58 last year and 68-56 in 2004. Cal most recent victory on McArthur Court was 86-75 in 2003.

Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent
Ernie Kent is in his ninth season at Oregon and has a 159-105 record with the Ducks. He has guided UO to five postseason berths, including an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 2002 when he was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Kent was also 90-80 at Saint Mary's from 1992-97.

For more information: www.goducks.com

Golden Bear Notes

Last Time Out: Cal Edges Washington State, 55-53
Senior G Richard Midgley scored 15 points - his highest total since Dec. 6 vs. San Diego State - and held Washington State leading scorer Josh Akognon to just three points, helping Cal to a 55-53 win over WSU Saturday in Haas Pavilion. The Bears built a 34-23 lead at the half, and still led by nine at 52-43 with 5:11 left. But WSU whittled away and got within 55-53 on an Aron Baynes layup with 12 seconds left. However, Cal was able to run out the clock to pick up its ninth home victory against just one loss. Leon Powe managed only one field goal against constant double-teaming, yet recorded his fifth straight double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds by going 12-for-14 from the free throw line. As a team, the Bears shot 20-for-25 at the charity stripe to the Cougars' 5-for-12.

Powe Runs Double-Double Streak to Five Games
With five consecutive double-doubles entering Thursday's game at Oregon State, sophomore F Leon Powe has matched the longest streak of his career. He also had five in a row to start his freshman season in 2003-04. The last Bear to have more than five straight was Mark McNamara, who recorded eight consecutive double-doubles as a senior during the 1981-82 campaign. Currently the Pac-10 leader with 10.4 rpg, Powe also paced the conference with 9.5 rpg his freshman year and could become just the second Cal player to top the league twice since 1960; McNamara was the other in both 1981 and '82. The only other Bears to lead the conference even once since '60 were Darrall Imhoff (1960) and Bill McClintock (1961).

Cal Holding Opponents to 40.7% FG Shooting on Road
Cal is limiting opponents to just 40.7 percent field goal shooting in road games, quite better than the Bears' 43.8 field goal percentage defense for the entire season. In six road dates so far, four teams have been held to less than 40 percent - USC (37.3%), UCLA (36.7%), Arizona State (35.7%) and Arizona (33.3%). And as significant as that stat appears, rebounding may be even more important. Cal is 3-0 with winning the rebounding war in opponent venues, but 0-3 when losing it.

Comparing Cal's FG% Defense and Rebounding in Road GamesOpponent           Opp FG%   Reb +/-   ResultEastern Michigan   55.3%       -6      L, 67-65USC                37.3%       +9      W, 62-58UCLA               36.7%       +7      W, 68-61Stanford           49.1%       -9      L, 75-61Arizona State      35.7%      +12      W, 88-58Arizona            33.3%      -17      L, 60-55

Cal Will Equal 2004-05 Win Total with Next Victory
Having already matched last year's Pac-10 win total with a 6-3 league mark so far, Cal will equal its full amount of victories for the entire 2004-05 campaign with its next triumph. Last season, the Bears finished 13-16 overall and 6-12 in conference action, and they enter this week's play with a 12-6 mark. In fact, two more positive outcomes will give Cal its most wins since the Bears finished 22-9 in 2002-03, as Cal was 13-15 in '03-04.

Bears Clutch from Free Throw Line
With the game on the line, the Bears have proven to be clutch performers from the free throw stripe this season. In the final two minutes of games, Cal is a collective 53-for-66 (80.3 percent), and no one has been better than junior G Ayinde Ubaka. To date, Ubaka is 22-for-24 (91.7%) in the final two minutes, and as the chart shows below, his performances have been key factors in four of the Bears' six Pac-10 wins. Overall, Ubaka is draining 83.1 percent from the charity stripe (59-71), a rate he has improved to 84.3 percent in conference action (43-51). Prior to this season, he was a career 68.5 percent foul shooter.

Opponent               Key Ubaka Free Throws                                  Resultat USC                 Hit 2 FT with 3 seconds left with Cal ahead, 60-58     W, 62-58at UCLA                Hit 2 FT with 21 seconds left with Cal up, 62-59       W, 68-61vs. Washington         Goes 3-4 from FT line in final 36 seconds              W, 71-69vs. Washington State   Hit 2 FT with 21 seconds left to give Cal 55-51 lead   W, 55-53

Cal Using Consistent Starting Lineup This Season
With the season now 18 games old, Cal has used only three different starting lineups all year and has had the same opening five for each of the Bears' last 14 games - since Leon Powe returned from his foot injury. With Powe on the sidelines, Cal began the year with a fivesome of DeVon Hardin, Richard Midgley, Theo Robertson, Ayinde Ubaka and Omar Wilkes that started three of the Bears' first four games. Eric Vierneisel subbed for Midgley in Game 2 vs. Long Beach State (Midgley sat out the contest with a shoulder stinger). But beginning with the year's fifth game vs. San Jose State Nov. 30, Cal has had a consistent starting five of Hardin, Midgley, Powe, Ubaka and Wilkes.

Powe-tent Force Back for Bears
Leon Powe, on the sidelines for more than a year and a half due to both left knee surgery and a stress fracture in his right foot, has returned to action seemingly without missing a beat. Since his debut vs. San Jose State Nov. 30, he has averaged 19.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg. Powe has twice tied his career scoring high, with 27 points vs. both SJSU and Oregon, while he has produced 10 double-digit rebounding efforts in 14 games. Voted Pac-10 Player of the Week Dec. 5 when he combined for 53 points and 20 rebounds in victories over San Jose State and Akron, he now ranks second in the conference in scoring and first in rebounding. Even when he totaled just five points at UCLA (second lowest of his career), Powe contributed a game-high 12 rebounds. He has 23 career double-doubles and has led Cal in rebounding in 37 of the 41 games he has played, including 12 of 14 this year.

Despite playing in only 14 games, Powe paces the Pac-10 in free throws, both with 94 made and 135 attempted. Now averaging 9.6 FT attempts per game (10.4 in Pac-10 play), he is shooting 34-for-42 (81.0%) from the stripe over his last four games.

Powe first underwent a pair of surgeries on his left knee in 2004 that kept him out all of the '04-05 campaign. Cleared to play last May, he earned MVP honors at the San Francisco Pro-Am and averaged 23.6 ppg and 10.4 rpg during Cal's trip to Italy over the summer. But just before the Bears' exhibition game vs. Humboldt State Nov. 14, Powe was diagnosed with a minor stress fracture in his right mid-foot, putting a hold on his return until the San Jose State contest.

Cal Allowing Fewest Points in 20 Years
Cal enters Thursday's game at Oregon State surrendering an average of only 65.1 ppg - the lowest rate allowed by the Bears since the 1985-86 squad gave up 63.4 ppg (when a 45-second shot clock was in use and before the introduction of the three-point line). Cal has given up more than 70 points just four times, while holding opponents to 60 or fewer points on six occasions. Last week, for example, the Bears limited Washington, the nation's top scoring team, to 69 points - more than 17 below its average. In addition, Washington State dropped in 53 points, the lowest amount for a Pac-10 foe this year.

Bears Find Three-Point Shooting to Their Liking This Season
After ranking last in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting the last two years, Cal has found its range behind the arc this season. Not only do the Bears rate third in the league from behind the arc (37.7%), but three players - Omar Wilkes, Richard Midgley and Ayinde Ubaka - have combined to drain 41.6 percent of their tries (89-214). Only one Cal squad has shot as high as 38 percent for an entire season - the 1989-90 team that sank a school-record 38.7 percent from three-point range.

Cal Three-Point Shooting Last Three Seasons2005-06   106-281   37.7%   5.89 three-pointers per game2004-05   110-344   32.0%   3.79 three-pointers per game2003-04   127-410   31.0%   4.54 three-pointers per game

ears Take Advantage of Free Throw Opportunities
Not only is Cal forcing its way to the free throw line more than its opponents, but the Bears are taking advantage once they reach the charity stripe. To date, Cal has attempted 421 free throws to its opponents' 259 and is outscoring them, 304-187, or by an average of 6.5 ppg. The Bears have had at least twice as many FT attempts as their opponents eight times, including both of last week's games vs. Washington (17 to 8) and WSU (25 to 12). In addition, Cal is shooting 72.2 percent from the line, far higher than their 62.7 percent success rate last year or 62.8 percent rate in 2003-04. The last time Cal shot as high as 72 percent for an entire season was in 1990-91 (72.5%). Individually, two starters are at 80 percent or higher - Ayinde Ubaka at 83.1 percent (59-71) and Richard Midgley at 82.4 percent (28-34). Despite playing four fewer games than his teammates, Leon Powe has taken a team-best 135 free throws and has taken 10 or more in a game eight times.

Ayinde Ubaka is Cal's Iron Man at the Point
In averaging 36.7 minutes per game, junior G Ayinde Ubaka ranks second in the Pac-10 to Arizona State's Kevin Kruger (38.2 mpg). Ubaka has played all 40 minutes twice - at UCLA and vs. Oregon - and has been on the court for 340 of a possible 360 minutes in conference action. He has played at least 35 minutes in every game this season, except vs. Northern Colorado when he played 28 minutes.

Ubaka More than Doubles Career Scoring Average
Ayinde Ubaka, who entered the season with a career scoring average of 6.3 ppg, is pouring in 15.0 ppg this year. Now Cal's second-leading scorer (and No. 8 in the Pac-10), he has reached double figures 16 times in 18 games after doing so on just eight occasions over his first two years in the program combined and only twice last season. Ubaka set a career high with 17 points in the opener at Eastern Michigan, then topped the total with 21 points in the Golden Bear Classic final vs. Northeastern to earn all-tournament team honors. He then bettered that performance with 29 points against Oregon (8-10 FG, 3-3 3P, 10-12 FT) Jan. 5. Ubaka also played key roles in Cal's sweep of USC and UCLA to begin Pac-10 play, scoring seven of his nine points in the final 4:35 vs. the Trojans and tossing in 18 points in 40 minutes of action vs. the Bruins. In addition, Ubaka is shooting 39.8 percent from three-point range (39-98), up from just 29.7 percent last year, and leads the Bears with 71 assists.

Comparing Ayinde Ubaka's Last Three Seasons2003-04   34.1 FG%   25.9 3P%   69.8 FT%   2.1 rpg   3.9 apg   6.4 ppg2004-05   34.2 FG%   29.7 3P%   65.0 FT%   2.0 rpg   2.7 apg   6.1 ppg2005-06   42.6 FG%   39.8 3P%   83.1 FT%   3.2 rpg   3.9 apg   15.0 ppg

Richard Midgley Moving Up Career Lists
Now firmly secured as Cal's No. 2 all-time three-point shooter, senior G Richard Midgley is creeping up the Bears' career scoring chart. He enters Thursday's Oregon State game with 1,091 points, which puts him in 23rd place overall. On the three-point list, he ranks second all-time with 168 triples, and he will likely end his career there, as leader Ryan Drew had 214 three-pointers from 1988-91. Midgley scored a season-high 17 points vs. both San Jose State and San Diego State, and he has reached double figures in 10 of the 16 games he has played (missed Long Beach State due to shoulder stinger). His three-point rate of 42.0 percent this season is just shy of his career best of 44.9 percent set as a freshman.

Cal Career Scoring Leaders21. Butch Hays        1981-84   1,14522. Andy Wolfe        1946-48   1,11223. Richard Midgley   2003-     1,091

Cal Career Three-Pointers Made1. Ryan Drew 1988-91 2142. Richard Midgley 2003- 1683. Joe Shipp 2000-03 157

Injury Woes Have Kept 7 Players Out at Least Once This Year
Through the first 18 contests of the 2005-06 season, seven Cal players have missed a total of 34 games due to injury. The Bears dressed just 10 players five times and 11 once in their first six outings, and have suited up everyone on the roster only one time - Dec. 21 vs. DePaul. Three players sat out last week's wins over Washington and Washington State - senior G Martin Smith, who led Cal with 113 assists last year; senior F Rod Benson, who paced the Bears in both scoring (13.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg) in 2004-05; and sophomore F Eric Vierneisel. Below is a list of players' injuries and games missed:

Name   Injury   Games MissedBenson       stress fracture, left heel    at E. Michigan, Northeastern, San Jose St., Akron             torn meniscus, right knee     at Arizona St., at Arizona, Washington, Washington St.Midgley      stinger, right shoulder       Long Beach St.Panawek      bulging disk, back            Northern Colorado, Northeastern, San Jose St., AkronPowe         stress fracture, right foot   at E. Michigan, Long Beach St., N. Colorado, N'easternSmith        stress fracture, pelvis       E. Michigan, Long Beach St.             abdominal strain              at USC, at UCLA, Oregon, OSU, at Stanford, at ASU,                                            at Arizona., Washington, Washington St.Vierneisel   concussion                    Washington, Washington St.Wilkes       sprained right ankle          San Jose St., Akron, San Diego St., Kansas

Nikola Knezevic Joins Bears Mid-Season
Nikola Knezevic (NEE-koh-lah k-NEH-zhuh-vich), a 6-2, 190-pound freshman point guard from Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, has enrolled for the spring semester and became eligible for the Bears Dec. 21 - one day after fall final exams. He saw his first action at USC Dec. 29, getting on the court for three minutes, and he had four points (4-6 FT) in 17 minutes vs. Oregon Jan. 5. Rated the No. 3 point guard and No. 17 overall player at last summer's adidas Superstar Camp, Knezevic played on the Serbia-Montenegro Junior National team at the Under 18 European Championships in 2004. As a member of his Beovuk '72 club team, he helped the squad to a pair of Serbian titles and two Serbia-Montenegro championships.

Like Father, Like Son with Smith, Wilkes Brothers
In 1975, the Golden State Warriors captured the NBA title with a couple of rookies playing key roles during their championship run - guard Phil Smith (7.7 ppg) and forward Jamaal Wilkes (14.2 ppg). Thirty years later, the sons of Smith and Wilkes are members of the California basketball team. Senior guard Martin Smith is a fourth-year walk-on who was rewarded with a scholarship for the 2005-06 campaign. Last year, he started 16 Pac-10 games and ranked fifth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.95:1). Omar and Jordan Wilkes join the squad as active members of the Bears this year. Omar, a 6-4 guard, sat out last season after transferring from Kansas and in his first action in a Cal uniform, poured in 17.8 ppg during Cal's trip to Italy over the summer. Jordan is a 6-11 center who averaged 20 ppg and 10 rpg en route to league MVP honors last year at Loyola HS in Los Angeles.

Rod Benson Finds Success on Two Courts
Last season, F/C Rod Benson may have been the most improved player in the Pac-10. After averaging 2.6 ppg and 1.7 rpg as a sophomore in 2003-04, Benson raised his rates to a team-best 13.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg last year. He ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in rebounding and seventh in the league in field goal shooting (54.3%). But the 6-10 post hasn't limited his exploits to the basketball court as a college student. For the last two springs, Benson has competed as a member of Cal's men's club volleyball team, even helping the Bears to a national No. 1 club ranking in 2005. As a prep at Torrey Pines HS outside San Diego, Benson earned first-team all-league honors and receive recruiting interest in both sports.

Oh Brother! Another Pair of Siblings Plays for Bears
For the third time in Ben Braun's tenure as head coach, a pair of brothers are suiting up in Cal uniforms together. This season, the tandem is sophomore guard Omar Wilkes and freshman center Jordan Wilkes. The first set of siblings to play on the same team was the Hughes brothers - centers Solomon and Gabriel. Solomon played for the Bears from 1999-02, while Gabriel was a part of teams from 2001-04. Lastly, Ryan and Tashaan Forehan-Kelly teamed up during the 2002 season. Ryan, a 6-5 wing, lettered for four years from 1999-02, and Tashaan walked on for the 2002 and '03 campaigns.

Where to Watch Cal Games on Comcast SportsNet
Six Cal basketball games this season, including three Pac-10 contests - at USC, at Arizona State and at Oregon - will be shown throughout Northern California on Comcast SportsNet. The channel is broadcast in the San Francisco Bay Area on Channel 400 (Comcast digital subscribers), Channel 656 (DirecTV) and Channel 409 (Dish Network). It is on standard cable in most other Northern California areas. For a complete Comcast SportsNet directory, call your local cable provider or visit west.comcastsportsnet.com.

Golden Bear Notes ...
Cal's 88-58 win over Arizona State Jan. 19 featured the Bears' biggest comeback of the year; Cal trailed, 16-5, midway through the first half before outscoring ASU, 83-42, over the final 33 minutes of the game ... the ASU result matched the Bears' largest victory margin in a conference road game ever; Cal also defeated USC by 30 points in 1998 (73-43) ... the Bears sank 31 free throws at ASU (38 attempts), their highest total since also making 31 at Washington State on Feb. 22, 1997 ... when Ayinde Ubaka and Leon Powe tallied 29 and 27 points, respectively, vs. Oregon Jan. 5, they became the first Cal duo to each score at least 25 points in a game since Lamond Murray (26) and Jason Kidd (25) vs. Oregon on March 3, 1994 ... Powe was listed as a preseason candidate for both the Wooden All-America team and the Naismith Trophy ... head coach Ben Braun picked up his 500th career victory with an 88-69 win over Long Beach State Nov. 21 ... when Cal won six consecutive games from Nov. 21 through Dec. 6, the run was the best for the team since an eight-game spurt from Dec. 30, 2002 to Jan. 25, 2003 ... with this season's win, Cal has captured nine of 13 Golden Bear Classics, including 8-of-10 under head coach Ben Braun ... sophomore C DeVon Hardin was voted MVP of the Golden Bear Classic, with senior G Richard Midgley and junior G Ayinde Ubaka joining him on the all-tournament team.

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