Cal Visits UNLV Saturday

Nov. 28, 2003

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California Golden Bears (1-1) at UNLV Rebels (2-1)
Saturday, Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
TV: None
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California ventures away from Haas Pavilion for the first time this season when the Golden Bears travel to Las Vegas to take on UNLV Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The contest is one of two road games for Cal during the non-Pac-10 portion of its schedule, with the Bears slated to visit Colorado next Saturday.

Cal is coming off a pair of games decided by the narrowest of margins - a 63-62 loss to Cal Poly and a 47-46 victory over BYU. Both outcomes were determined in the final six seconds, as Cal Poly tipped in a missed shot with 4.8 seconds left, while Cal senior F Amit Tamir put back his own miss with 5.8 seconds remaining vs. Brigham Young.

Although the Bears' offense has struggled to get on track the first week of the season, Cal's defense has been causing havoc for opponents, especially in the first half of games. Cal Poly and BYU combined to shoot 15-for-45 (33.3 percent) and average 23.0 ppg in the opening period, all while committing 22 total turnovers.

That extends a trend from Cal's exhibition games when the Bears built intermission leads of 34-20 over Athletes in Action and 35-17 over EA Sports.

After starting just one freshman - F Leon Powe - in the season-opener, head coach Ben Braun upped the rookie count to three freshmen vs. BYU (also G Ayinde Ubaka and F Marquise Kately). The trio joins sophomore G Richard Midgley and Tamir to give the Bears one of their youngest opening quintets ever.

Powe, tabbed the preseason Pac-10 Freshman of the Year by several publications, has lived up to his billing so far with a pair of double-doubles. He totaled 12 points and 10 rebounds against Cal Poly, then raised his numbers to 18 points and 11 boards vs. BYU.

Ubaka, in his first start, added nine points and a team-high three assists against the Cougars.Coming off the bench, senior G A.J. Diggs has moved into Cal's all-time Top 10 in steals. With four this season to give him 124 for his career, he has passed Doug True (1977-80, 121) to claim 10th place on the Bears' list. A former walk-on, Diggs can tie Keith Smith (1987-90, 129) for ninth with five more thefts.

Tamir's Follow Shot Lifts Cal Past BYU, 48-47
Amit Tamir's tip-in of his own missed shot with 5.8 seconds left gave Cal a 48-47 win over BYU Wednesday night in Haas Pavilion. The Bears led by a 43-35 count with 9:14 to go, but managed just a Leon Powe layup until Tamir's bucket. Although Cal shot just 33.3 percent from the floor for the game, including 24.1 percent (7-for-29) in the second half, the Bears outrebounded the Cougars, 35-29, forced 21 turnovers and blocked four shots. The outcome was Cal's lowest scoring win since a 43-41 double OT victory at Stanford on Feb. 16, 1985. Powe finished with a second straight double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Cal's freshmen contributed 35 of the Bears 47 total points.

Freshman Class Makes Immediate Impact on Lineup
Cal's recruiting class, which was ranked among the Top 10 in the country by several recruiting services, has made its presence felt early this season. After starting just one rookie - F Leon Powe - in the Cal Poly opener, head coach Ben Braun inserted fellow newcomers G Ayinde Ubaka and F Marquise Kately into the opening lineup vs. BYU. Powe has recorded a double-double in both of his outings (12 points, 10 rebounds vs. Cal Poly; 18 points, 11 rebounds vs. BYU), and he his shooting 54.5 percent from the field. So far, the freshman group, which also includes F Dominic McGuire, has combined to score 64 of the Bears' 109 total points (58.7 percent). The BYU game marked the first time that Braun started at least three since the 1999-2000 season when he started three, and sometimes four, first-year players. That class featured Joe Shipp, Brian Wethers, Donte Smith, Shantay Legans and Nick Vander Laan and finished 18-15 while reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Leon Powe Living Up to His Nickname - 'The Show'
On his way to earning McDonald's All-America honors at Oakland Tech High School, F Leon Powe was deemed 'The Show' for his exploits on the court. And since arriving at Cal this fall, the freshman has lived up to that moniker. In the Cal Poly opener, Powe became the first Golden Bear freshman to record a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) since Jason Kidd had 11 points and 10 assists in his debut vs. Sacramento State in 1992. Then last Wednesday vs. BYU, Powe, who was limited to seven first-half minutes due to foul trouble, had 14 of his 18 points and 10 of his 11 rebounds after intermission.

Back-to-Back Mountain West Games
With games against BYU and UNLV this week, Cal is playing back-to-back games against teams from the Mountain West Conference. However, the Bears will hardly be through with the MWC after Saturday. Fellow league member Wyoming visits Haas Pavilion Dec. 9, and Cal could face Air Force on the second day of the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Dec. 28. The Bears last played consecutive games vs. teams from the same conference in 2001 when Cal split a pair of contests against two Conference USA schools - losing at South Florida, 79-59, on Dec. 1, and defeating Saint Louis, 88-63, on Dec. 6 in Berkeley.

Cal Looking to Continue Road Success in Las Vegas
Last season, Cal posted a 7-4 road record - including a 2-0 mark in non-conference games - to give the Bears their first plus-.500 road record since 1994-95. In 2002-03, Cal opened the year by coming back from a 13-point deficit to defeat New Mexico, 76-68, in Albuquerque. The Bears then edged Cleveland State, 73-64, in overtime in Ohio, and proceeded to go 5-4 away from home in Pac-10 games.

Close Games Not the Norm in Early Season Contests
With consecutive one-point games to open the year - a 63-62 loss to Cal Poly and a 47-46 win over BYU - Cal has had its first two contests decided by one point for the first time in school history. In fact, since the Golden Bears began playing basketball in 1907-08, only two other season-openers had a one-point margin - a 26-25 loss to Oregon State in 1930-31 and an 82-81 double overtime win over Houston on Dec. 2, 1971.

A.J. Diggs Moves into 10th on Career Steals List
With two steals against Cal Poly last Friday, senior G A.J. Diggs moved into 10th place on Cal's career steals list. He now has 124 steals entering the UNLV contest. Diggs, a former walk-on who has since earned a scholarship, has led the Bears in steals each of the last two seasons. He had 47 steals in 2002 and 57 more last year - a total that ranks fifth on the school season chart. Diggs tied Jason Kidd's Cal single-season record with eight steals at Cleveland State last Nov. 30, and he set a school NCAA Tournament mark with six steals against North Carolina State in a first-round game last March.

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