Cal Visits USC, UCLA

Jan. 17, 2005

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California Golden Bears (8-7, 1-4) at USC Trojans (8-9, 1-5)
Thursday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m., L.A. Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
TV: None

California at UCLA Bruins (10-4, 4-2, vs. Stanford Jan. 20)
Saturday, Jan. 22, 12:45 p.m., Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: KFRC (610 AM)
TV: CBS Regional (locally on KPIX, Channel 5)

A Quick Look at the Golden Bears
California makes its annual trip to Los Angeles this week, where the Golden Bears will face USC Thursday night and UCLA Saturday afternoon.

Cal is looking to snap a three-game losing streak after dropping consecutive home contests to Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford. With a 3-1 record outside of Berkeley, the Bears have their best road mark since they won their first four away contests in 2002-03.

Although Cal fell to Stanford, 74-58, last Saturday, the Bears did welcome back sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka to the lineup, giving them nine healthy scholarship players for the first time in almost two months. After missing 11 games due to a broken left foot suffered against Southern Nov. 23, Ubaka played 21 minutes vs. the Cardinal and finished with five points, three assists and no turnovers.

His return comes at an opportune time, as leading scorer Richard Midgley has been limited the past two weeks with a sprained right shoulder. In the three games since the injury - suffered at Washington State Jan. 2 - he has averaged only 9.0 ppg, down from his season rate of 15.1 ppg.

Throughout the year, G Martin Smith, a third-year walk-on, has helped pick up the slack in the backcourt. Now leading the Bears in assists (4.0 per game), he paces the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.73:1).

Two other players competing with Smith for most improved on the squad are juniors Rod Benson and David Paris. Benson has reached double figures 10 times in his last 12 games after pouring in 24 points to go with a career-high 11 rebounds in last week's Stanford game. In Pac-10 action, he leads the Bears with 15.4 ppg. Entering the season, Benson had a career scoring rate of 1.8 ppg.

Paris totaled 13 points vs. the Cardinal to lift his season average of 6.3 ppg. A career 1.6 ppg scorer prior to this year, he showed off his potential in the '04-05 opener vs. UC Riverside when he had 16 points and eight boards. In addition, he is connecting on 78.0% from the foul line after being a 38.1% free throw shooter his first two seasons.

USC Scouting Report

A Look at USC
After losing its first five Pac-10 games, USC outlasted Arizona State, 98-94, last Saturday in Tempe. Nick Young led five Trojans in double figures with 22 points, as USC shot 55.2 percent from the floor and 8-for-16 from three-point range. The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in three-pointers made (128), paced by Lodrick Stewart's 49 (41.9%).

Cal-USC Series History
Cal owns a 121-111 series lead over USC, with the Bears posting a 12-5 mark against the Trojans under Ben Braun. Last season, Cal squeaked out a 63-62 win at home on Ayinde Ubaka's two free throws with 18 seconds left, while the USC prevailed in Los Angeles, 70-60, after trailing, 32-30, at the half.

USC Head Coach Jim Saia
Jim Saia is serving as interim coach of the Trojans this season following the dismissal of Henry Bibby earlier in the year. Saia was an assistant coach at UCLA for seven years before coming to USC. In 1997, he helped the Bruins to the NCAA Elite Eight.

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UCLA Scouting Report

A Look at UCLA
UCLA, which hosts Stanford Thursday, had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 76-73 loss at Arizona last Saturday. Dijon Thompson paces the squad in both scoring (18.4 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg), and is shooting a team-best 39.1 percent from three-point range (18-46). The Bruins are 8-0 at home this year, including a 95-86 win over Washington.

Cal-UCLA Series History
UCLA leads the series, 120-92, after splitting two games last season. Cal beat UCLA, 76-62, in Berkeley for the Bears' fourth consecutive homecourt win over the Bruins. UCLA, however, claimed a 66-49 decision in Los Angeles later in the year after building 30-14 halftime lead.

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland
Ben Howland is in his second year with the Bruins after guiding UCLA to an 11-17 record in 2003-04. Overall, Howland's record after 10 seasons as a head coach - which includes stops at Pittsburgh and Northern Arizona - is 189-120.

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Golden Bear Notes

Bears Fall to Stanford, 74-58
Although sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a broken left foot, California fell to Stanford, 74-58, last Saturday in Haas Pavilion. The Bears tied the score at 10-10 on a Richard Midgley three-pointer, but the Cardinal then opened up a 27-14 lead with 4:02 left in the first half. Cal's deficit reached 20 points at 51-31, although the Bears did get within 11 points at 63-52 with 4:03 remaining. Rod Benson paced Cal with 24 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while David Paris scored all 13 of his points in the second half. The Bears shot just 31.9 percent from the floor and were only 7-of-32 in the opening period (21.9%).

In Rod We Trust: Benson Blossoms on the Block
Entering this season, junior F/C Rod Benson was a little-used reserve who played more than 10 minutes just six times and reached double figures in scoring only once - 11 points at Arizona in January 2004 - in his first two years with the program. But this season, Benson has taken full advantage of his opportunity to start and has been dubbed 'the most improved player in the Pac-10' by FSN analyst Dan Belluomini. Now averaging 13.1 ppg and shooting 57.4 percent from the floor, Benson is coming off a 24-point, 11-rebound effort vs. Stanford. He has scored at least 10 points 10 times in his past 12 games, with a best of 25 points vs. Colorado Dec. 7 and another 22 vs. UNLV Dec. 1. In Pac-10 action, Benson has raised his average to a team-high 15.4 ppg, while his league rebounding rate of 6.6 rpg also paces the squad. Prior to this year, Benson had averaged 1.8 ppg in 37 career games.

Benson By YearSeason     G   Min   Avg    FG-A    Pct   Reb   Avg   Pts   Avg2002-03   16    55   3.4    6-12   50.0    13   0.8    13   0.82003-04   21   178   8.5   22-50   44.0    36   1.7    55   2.62004-05   15   384  25.6  78-136   57.4    74   4.9   196  13.1

Road Kinder than Home to Cal This Season
With the 2004-05 already past the halfway point, Cal is finding a higher rate of success away from home than inside Haas Pavilion. Entering this week's game in Los Angeles, the Bears are 3-1 on the road and just 5-6 in Berkeley. Cal won its only two non-conference road games - 67-64 at BYU and 60-57 at San Diego State - then knocked off Washington State, 59-47, in Spokane Jan. 2. The Bears' only loss was at Washington, 81-67, although Cal did hold a 60-57 lead with 9:35 left. In contrast, Cal has lost three straight at home - vs. Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford - for the first time January 2000. The biggest difference has been on the defensive end, where the Bears are limiting foes to 37.1 percent field goal shooting and only 62.2 ppg in road contests.

          Record    FG%    PPG  Opp FG%  Opp PPGHome Games   5-6   44.9   68.1     42.3     66.5Road Games   3-1   43.7   63.2     37.1     62.2

Injuries Take Toll on Bears throughout Season
Cal entered the 2004-05 knowing that three members of the roster would miss most, if not all, of the campaign - sophomore F Leon Powe (knee), freshman C Sam Rayburn (knee) and junior forward Jordi Geli (foot). But since the start of the season, two additional injuries have had significant impacts on the Bears' lineup. First, sophomore G Ayinde Ubaka broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in the first half of the Nov. 23 Southern game. He underwent surgery the next day, a procedure that kept him off the court for eight weeks. After missing 11 games, he returned vs. Stanford Jan. 15, finishing with five points and three assists in 21 minutes against the Cardinal.

In addition, junior G Richard Midgley sprained his right shoulder at Washington State Jan. 2. Although he continued to play against the Cougars and in Cal's next game vs. Arizona, he was limited to just six minutes against Arizona State. As a result, Midgley's production has fallen from 16.7 ppg and 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range (30-70) in the first 12 games of the year to 9.0 ppg and 31.6 percent on three-pointers (5-16) over the past three contests. Head coach Ben Braun said Midgley's status for the USC game will be determined later in the week, noting that Midgley may need to rest his shoulder.

Powe, the 2004 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, is on the sidelines for all of '04-05 following Sept. 8 reconstructive knee surgery. The first freshman in the history of the Pac-10 to lead the league in rebounding when he averaged 9.5 rpg last year, he also was Cal's leading scorer in 2003-04 with 15.1 ppg. Rayburn is rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery, while Geli's preseason foot surgery will keep him off the court for the foreseeable future.

Martin Smith Carries on Strong Walk-on Tradition
Since his arrival at Cal in the fall of 1996, coach Ben Braun has had a knack for finding walk-ons who eventually became key cogs for the Bears. Most notably, Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) developed into one of the top three-point shooters in school history, finishing his career with a 40.7 percent success rate from behind the arc (84-212). In addition, A.J. Diggs completed his tenure last year ranked No. 3 on Cal's all-time steals list with 158.

Now add junior G Martin Smith to the mix. Son of the late Phil Smith, an All-Star guard with the Golden State Warriors in the 1970s, Martin is in his third season with the Bears and currently leads the squad with 60 assists (4.0 apg). Early in the season, he had seven assists vs. Southern and added six more in Cal's win over UC Riverside. Then in the Office Depot Golden Bear Classic Dec. 22-23, Smith scored 10 points and dished out a career-best eight assists vs. Hampton and had four assists (no turnovers) against Pepperdine to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. As a reward for his strong play, he started for the first time in his career at Washington, finishing with seven assists against the Huskies. He added a personal-best six rebounds at Washington State and a career-high 12 points against Arizona State. For the year, he owns a 2.73:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (60 assists/23 turnovers) - a figure that leads the Pac-10.

Downtown is Midgley's Favorite Neighborhood
Throughout his tenure at Cal, junior G Richard Midgley has clearly been Cal's most consistent three-point threat. After setting a school freshman record by making 44.9 percent (44-98) of his long-range attempts in '02-03, he was 40-for-114 (35.1%) last year. This season, the native of Burgess Hill, England, again has his average over 40 percent, and he enters the USC contest connecting on 40.7 percent of his long-distance attempts (35-86). He sank six straight three-pointers in a 6-for-8 effort vs. Southern Nov. 23 and had a 6-for-9 outing vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Dec. 4. For his career, Midgley has made 119-of-298 treys, putting him in seventh place on Cal's all-time list and fifth in three-point percentage (39.9 %).

Cal Career Three-Pointers4. Shantay Legans (2000-02)    1395. Amit Tamir (2002-04)        1366. Bill Elleby (1989-92)       1357. Richard Midgley (2003- )    1198. K.J. Roberts (1992-95)      109

Cal Career Three-Point Percentage1. Billy Dreher (1991-92) 43.1%2. Keith Smith (1987-90) 41.3%3. Bill Elleby (1989-92) 41.0%4. Ryan Forehan-Kelly (1999-02) 40.7%5. Richard Midgley (2003- ) 39.9%

Bear Defense Holding Strong
Throughout the 2004-05 season, the most consistent area for the Bears has been their effort on the defensive end. Not only is Cal holding opponents to just 65.3 ppg - the lowest figure at the school since the introduction of the shot clock - but the Bears are also limiting teams to 40.9 percent shooting from the field. Six foes have had field goal shooting percentages of 35.0 percent or less, including Washington State's 29.8 percent Jan. 2. During his tenure as Cal's head coach, Ben Braun has repeatedly fielded teams that rate among the best in the Pac-10 in scoring defense. His first squad in 1996-97 led the league (67.8 ppg) and two other teams finished the year among the conference's top three.

Cal's Top Defensive Teams since 1986-871. 2004-05   65.3 ppg   2nd in Pac-10   Coach: Ben Braun2. 2001-02   66.6 ppg   2nd in Pac-10    Coach: Ben Braun3. 2003-04   67.2 ppg   3rd in Pac-10    Coach: Ben Braun4. 1996-97   67.8 ppg   1st in Pac-10    Coach: Ben Braun

Bear Notes ...
Cal won its first two road games for the first time since 2002-03 and for just the second time since 1995-96, and at 3-1 on the road overall, the Bears have their best road mark after four games since they began 4-0 during that '02-03 campaign ... every returning scholarship player who has seen action this year, except Ayinde Ubaka, has set or tied his career scoring high this season - Rod Benson (25 vs. Colorado), Marquise Kately (24 vs. Saint Mary's - tie), Dominic McGuire (12 vs. Arizona), David Paris (16 vs. UC Riverside) and Richard Midgley (28 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson) ... walk-on G Alex Pribble played a career-high nine minutes vs. Arizona Jan. 8, finishing with three points (1-1 3P), one rebound and two assists ... Jordan Wilkes, a 6-10, 210-pound center out of Loyola HS in Los Angeles, signed a National Letter of Intent with the Bears Nov. 10. Rated the No. 5 center in the country by, he averaged 16.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game as a junior. He is the younger brother of Cal sophomore G Omar Wilkes (sitting out this year after transferring from Kansas) ... Darrall Imhoff, a center on Cal's 1959 NCAA championship game and a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, will be inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor in March ... with 20 blocks so far, Dominic McGuire needs just two more to match his team-leading total from last year ... Cal's 38.7 three-point percentage matches the school record set in 1989-90 ... 10 Bears are averaging at least 10 minutes per game, with only Richard Midgley (30.8) playing 30 minutes or more.

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