Cal Prepares for Top-Seeded Oklahoma
March 21, 2003
California Golden Bears (22-8) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (25-6)
Saturday, March 22, 4:30 p.m. CT / 2:30 p.m. PT, Ford Center, Oklahoma City, OK
TV: CBS or TBA (check local listings)
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
Golden Bear Game Notes
* Eighth-seeded Cal meets No. 1 seed Oklahoma Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. CT/2:30 p.m. PT in a second round game of the East Regional in the NCAA Tournament.
* Cal is facing a No. 1 seed for the third time since 1990 in NCAA Tournament play. In 1990, No. 9 Cal lost to No. 1 Connecticut, 75-54, in the East Region second round in Hartford, Conn. Then in 1997, No. 1 North Carolina defeated No. 5 Cal, 63-57, in the East Region Sweet 16 in Syracuse, N.Y.
* For the second consecutive year, Cal is facing a team playing in its home area in the second round. Last season, the Bears played Pittsburgh before 17,015 fans at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena, losing 63-50. In that game, the teams were tied at 26-all at the break before third-seeded Pitt took control with a 16-0 run in the second half.
* Cal's victory over North Carolina State Thursday marked its school-record fifth overtime game of the season. The Bears sport a 3-2 record in extra-period affairs this year - defeating Cleveland State, San Francisco and NC State and losing to Georgia and UCLA.
* Cal improved its record to 10-3 in NCAA first-round games with Thursday's victory, including 3-1 under head coach Ben Braun.
* Braun now owns an 11-4 postseason record at Cal - including both NIT and NCAA Tournament games - pushing him past Hall of Famer Pete Newell for first on Cal's postseason victory list. Newell was 10-3 in four NCAA Tournaments from 1957-60, while Braun has taken the Bears to four NCAAs and two NITs.
* Junior C Gabriel Hughes set a career high with 14 points vs. NC State (5-5 FG, 4-7 FT) and matched a personal best with nine rebounds (also at Arizona State Jan. 30). Hughes, whose brother, Solomon, started at center on Cal's last two NCAA Tournament teams, had a previous high of 10 points set at Washington State in 2002.
* Senior F Joe Shipp, who tallied 24 points against the Wolfpack, needs just 10 points to pass both Bob McKeen and Kevin Johnson and take over third on Cal's career scoring list. Shipp has 1,646 points, while McKeen poured in 1,654 from 1952-55 and KJ had 1,655 from 1984-87.
Cal-North Carolina State Recap
Freshman PG Richard Midgley drained a three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in overtime to lift Cal to a 76-74 victory over ninth-seeded North Carolina State Thursday. The Bears led for most of the contest, going up by as much as eight points at 24-16 and holding a 63-56 advantage with 5:49 to go. NC State, though, took its first lead at 66-65 on a Julius Hodge dunk at the 2:21 mark. Cal tied the score at 66-all on a Conor Famulener free throw with 1:34 left, and neither team scored the rest of regulation. In the overtime, the Bears' Brian Wethers gave Cal a 73-71 edge with 35 seconds left with a free throw. Scotter Sherrill put NC State up, 74-73, on a long three-pointer with 15 seconds left, setting up Midgley's heroics. F Joe Shipp paced the Bears with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while C Gabriel Hughes added 14 points and nine boards, and Midgley and Wethers had 11 points apiece.
Oklahoma leads the series with Cal, 2-1, including a 75-58 win in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Nov. 21, 1999 - the third career game for Bear seniors Joe Shipp (5 points, 4 rebounds), Brian Wethers (5 points, 4 rebounds) and Donte Smith (3 points). OU also won, 94-72, on Dec. 20, 1965 in Norman, and Cal prevailed, 108-81, on Dec. 5, 1966 in Berkeley.
King Richard (for) III
Freshman PG Richard Midgley, Cal's native of England who nailed the game-winning three-pointer vs. North Carolina State, has been on a tear from behind the arc all season. His rate of 45.8 percent is Cal's best ever by a freshman and fourth on the season list by all players. Now 44-for-96 in long-range attempts, Midgley is 10-for-20 over his past four games, including a 4-for-7 effort vs. Oregon State in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals. Often overlooked as a fourth scoring option for the Bears this year, Midgley scored a career-high 23 points in a 73-68 win over USC Jan. 23 and he had a team-best 12 points (all on three-pointers) in last week's victory over Oregon State.
Diggs Breaks Kidd's Steal Record
Junior G A.J. Diggs swiped the ball six times against North Carolina State, breaking Jason Kidd's school record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game. Kidd had five steals vs. LSU in the first round in 1993. Earlier this season, Diggs tied Kidd's overall single-game steal mark with eight steals at Cleveland State. For the year, Diggs has 55 thefts to put him in a tie for fifth with Thomas Kilgore (1999) in the school record book.
Hughes Posts Career Day in the Middle
Entering Thursday's game, junior C Gabriel Hughes had scored a total of 12 points in his previous five games. But against the Wolfpack, Hughes erupted for a career-best 14 points, making all five of his shots from the floor and going 4-for-7 from the free throw line. In addition, Hughes tied a personal best with nine rebounds (also at Arizona State), while his 24 minutes of action matched a career high (also at Arizona).
Bears' 2-Year Win Total Best since 1959-60
With a combined 45 wins over the past two seasons, Cal has its most victories in a two-year span since the 1959-60 clubs combined for 53 triumphs. After posting a 23-9 mark last season, the Bears are 22-8 this year. Under head coach Pete Newell, Cal won the 1959 NCAA championship with a 25-4 record and reached the 1960 NCAA final when the Bears finished 28-2.
Another First since '60 - Most Wins in Four Years
With a combined 83 wins over the past four seasons, Cal has tied the 1999-2002 clubs for most wins in a four-year span since the 1957-60 teams captured 93 victories. The Bears were 18-15 in 2000, 20-11 in '01 and 23-9 last season, in addition to being 22-8 this year.
Rebounding Margin Key Stat in Cal Results
If there is one statistic that stands out as a key indicator of Cal's results, it is rebounding margin. Through 30 games, the Bears are 17-1 when they out-rebound their opponent, but just 5-7 when they don't. Perhaps more significant, Cal's rebound margin is +4.0 in the Bears' 21 wins and -5.4 in their eight losses. Cal's highest margin was +22 vs. Grambling (53-31) - the team's largest since posting a +25 advantage vs. Texas Southern (47-22) on Nov. 30, 1996. The Bears won the board battle against North Carolina State Thursday - 38-36. Overall, Cal averages 1.5 more rebounds than its opponents.
Shipp, Wethers Near Top of Games Played List
In Joe Shipp and Brian Wethers, Cal has two seniors who can provide as much experience as any tandem in the country. Shipp enters Saturday's contest having playing in 126 games, good for No. 2 on the Bears' career chart, trailing only Keith Smith, who saw action in 128 contests from 1987-90. Wethers is right behind Shipp with 125 games played. In addition, Shipp owns 86 career starts, while Wethers has 87 starts to his credit.
Braun Takes Bears into Second Round for Third Time
For the third time in four tries, head coach Ben Braun has guided Cal into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In 1997 - Braun's first year at the helm - he took the fifth-seeded Bears to the Sweet 16 with wins over Princeton (55-52) and Villanova (75-68). After a first-round 82-70 loss to Fresno State as an eighth seed in 2001, Cal won its opening game against Penn (82-75) last year. The Bears then captured a thrilling 76-74 decision over North Carolina State Thursday - Cal's first overtime contest in 30 NCAA Tournament games.
Golden Bear Notes ...
With 1,212 points, Brian Wethers holds down 16th place on Cal's career list; he needs four points to pass Doug True, who had 1,215 points from 1977-80 ... Joe Shipp's 612 points this season rank No. 4 in Cal history, trailing only Lamond Murray (729 in 1994), Leonard Taylor (649 in 1989) and Ed Gray (644 in 1997) ... Richard Midgley needed three stitches in his forehead after sustaining a cut in the postgame celebration following his three-pointer to beat North Carolina State Thursday ... Conor Famulener's eight points vs. NC State was his highest total since scoring 11 points in the season-opener at New Mexico Nov. 23 ... Cal has improved its road/neutral record to 9-7 this season - 7-4 on opponent home courts and 2-3 in neutral venues.