Cal Opens Pac-10 Play vs. USC Thursday

Jan. 2, 2008

USC Trojans (9-3, 0-0) at California Golden Bears (9-2, 0-0)
Thursday, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
TV: none

UCLA Bruins (12-1, 0-0, at Stanford 1/3) at California Golden Bears
Saturday, Jan. 5, 3 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
Radio: KYOU (1550 AM)
TV: Fox Sports Net

Having completed the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 9-2 mark, including a championship in the recently completed Golden Bear Classic, California opens its Pac-10 slate by hosting No. 22 USC Thursday and No. 5 UCLA Saturday in Haas Pavilion.

This weekend marks the first time the Golden Bears will begin conference play against two ranked teams.

Cal is 8-1 at home in Berkeley this season and has been particularly effective offensively of late. The Bears set a school record with 16 three-pointers in last Friday's 102-65 victory over Long Beach State, then made 10-of-20 from long range in an 86-72 win over North Dakota State Saturday.

However, they will have their hands full against a couple of opponents who are near the top of the Pac-10 in defense. USC is allowing just 59.0 ppg, while UCLA is surrendering 53.8 ppg.

Cal starts a lineup of four sophomores and a senior and is led by second-year F Ryan Anderson, who paces the Pac-10 in scoring with 22.2 ppg and pulls down 9.4 rpg. He is shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and leads the Bears with 23 three-pointers (41.8%).

In addition, sophomore G Patrick Christopher tosses in 17.0 ppg, up from 5.2 ppg last year, and has scored 16 or more points nine times.

Senior C DeVon Hardin anchors Cal's defense. He opened the year by snaring at least 12 rebounds in five straight games and averages 9.9 rpg for the season. He also has a team-high 22 blocks, rating second in the Pac-10 with 2.0 bpg.

As a team, the Bears are allowing teams to shoot just 40.5 percent from the floor and have held seven of 11 foes below 40 percent.

Jerome Randle: Pac-10 Player of the Week
Sophomore G Jerome Randle was named Pac-10 Player of the Week Dec. 31 after averaging 23.0 ppg to lead Cal to the Golden Bear Classic title. He scored 20 points vs. Long Beach State Friday, then a career-high 26 points in the championship game vs. North Dakota State at day later. In the two contests, he shot 59.1 percent from the floor, including 9-of-13 from three-point range.

Probable StartersPOS  NO   NAME                  HT    WT   YR   PPG   RPGF    23   Patrick Christopher   6-5   215  So   17.0  3.4At least 16 points in 9 games after averaging 5.2 ppg last yearF    34   Ryan Anderson         6-10  240  So   22.2  9.4Career-high 36 points at Nevada; Dec. 3 Pac-10 Player of the WeekC    35   DeVon Hardin          6-11  250  Sr   9.8   9.9Leads Bears with 22 blocksG     3   Jerome Randle         5-10  165  So   13.4  3.4 apgGolden Bear Classic MVP after career-high 26 points vs. NDSUG    13   Nikola Knezevic       6-2   185  So   4.7   3.5 apgTied personal best with 6 assists vs. Long Beach State

Cal Head Coach Ben Braun
Ben Braun (Wisconsin '75), the second-winningest coach in Cal history, is in his 12th year in Berkeley and 31st season as a collegiate head coach. His record at Cal stands at 211-140, while his career mark - which includes 11 years at Eastern Michigan and eight seasons at Siena Heights College - is 544-375. 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 seven times. 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, plus another NCAA berth in 2006. 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.

USC Scouting Report

A Look at USC
Since an opening day loss to Mercer, USC has won nine of its past 11, with the only two setbacks to No. 3 Kansas (59-55) and No. 2 Memphis (62-58 OT) in early December. Freshman O.J. Mayo leads four players averaging in double figures with 19.5 ppg, which ranks second in the Pac-10 to Cal's Ryan Anderson.

Cal-USC Series History
Cal leads the all-time series with USC, 124-115. The Trojans swept the Bears in both meetings last year - 76-73 in Berkeley and 84-66 in Los Angeles - after Cal prevailed in three games in 2005-06, including an 82-67 victory in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals. In last season's contest in Haas Pavilion, the Bears battled back from a 17-point deficit to force a tie, but USC scored the final three points of the game to pull out the win.

USC Head Coach Tim Floyd
Tim Floyd is 51-28 in his third season at USC and owns a 294-158 career mark that includes stops at Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State. He has guided teams to the NCAA Tournament six times and took the Trojans to the Sweet 16 last year.

Probable StartersPos  No   Name              Ht   Wt   Yr   Ppg   RpgF     5   Davon Jefferson   6-8  215  Fr   13.0  5.9F    22   Taj Gibson        6-9  220  So   8.8   8.2G    13   Daniel Hackett    6-5  205  So   11.8  4.3G    21   Dwight Lewis      6-5  210  So   10.4  2.1G    32   O.J. Mayo         6-5  200  Fr   19.5  4.8

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UCLA Scouting Report

A Look at UCLA
Other than a 63-61 loss to Texas Dec. 2, UCLA has been perfect on the season. The Bruins are holding teams to just 53.8 ppg and are outrebounding them by 11.0 per game. Freshman Kevin Love leads the team in scoring (16.4 ppg), rebounding (10.2 rpg) and field goal shooting (57.8%).

Cal-UCLA Series History
UCLA owns a 125-95 series advantage over Cal. The Bears have won at least one game against the Bruins each of the last nine years. The streak was in jeopardy after the Bruins took both contests during the regular season in '06-07 - 62-46 in Berkeley and 85-75 in Los Angeles. However, behind 29 points from Ayinde Ubaka, Cal upset the top-seeded and fourth-ranked Bruins in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament, 76-69, in overtime.

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland
Ben Howland is 103-42 in his fifth season at UCLA. He has also coached at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh and owns a career record of 271-141. Howland has led the Bruins to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Final Four.

Probable StartersPos  No   Name                       Ht    Wt   Yr   Ppg   RpgF     3   Josh Shipp                 6-5   220  Jr   14.4  2.9F    23   Luc Richard Mbah a Moute   6-8   232  Jr   10.1  5.4C    42   Kevin Love                 6-10  271  Fr   16.4  10.2G     0   Russell Westbrook          6-3   189  So   11.5  3.0G     2   Darren Collison            6-0   160  Jr   12.7  3.1

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Golden Bear Notes

Last Game: Cal Captures Golden Bear Classic
Tournament MVP Jerome Randle scored a career-high 26 points, 19 of which came in the second half, to lead Cal to an 86-72 win over North Dakota State in the Golden Bear Classic championship game last Saturday in Haas Pavilion. The Bison raced out to a 35-28 halftime lead before the Bears opened the second half on a 14-5 run to move ahead, 42-40. After NDSU went back up, 53-50, Cal responded with a 16-3 spurt keyed by eight points from Harper Kamp. In addition to Randle, Ryan Anderson, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds, was named to the all-tournament team. In the first round of the tournament, Randle had 20 points and the Bears connected on a school-record 16 three-pointers in a 102-65 defeat of Long Beach State.

Pac-10 Openers Don't Foreshadow Final Results
Cal is just 3-8 in Pac-10 openers under head coach Ben Braun, although the Bears have won three of their past five. The last time Cal began league play with the Los Angeles schools, the Bears swept USC (62-58) and UCLA (68-61) on the road in 2005-06. Despite the slow Pac-10 starts, Cal owns a 104-94 conference mark under Braun, making him the first Bear coach since Pete Newell to post a winning league record.

Cal Matches Pre-Jan. 1 Win Mark under Braun
Having completed the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 9-2 mark, Cal has tied the record for most wins before Jan. 1 under head coach Ben Braun. The Bears also reached the total in 1996-97 (9-2), 1998-99 (9-1), 2001-02 (9-1) and 2006-07 (9-3). The last time Cal had more pre-Jan. 1 victories came in 1947-48 when the Bears were 10-3.

Bears Set School Record with 16 Three-Pointers vs. LBSU
After missing its first 10 shots from the floor, including an 0-for-6 effort from behind the arc against Long Beach State last Friday, Cal didn't seem to be setting itself up for a record-setting night. But once the Bears settled down, they began firing in shots from all over the court. By the end of the game, Cal had made a school-record 16 three-pointers in 31 attempts, breaking the mark of 15 set at USC on Jan. 24, 2002. Seven different Bears sank at least one trey, led by a 5-for-7 performance from Jerome Randle. The others to join in the fun: Patrick Christopher (2-4), Ryan Anderson (3-8), Jamal Boykin (2-2), Eric Vierneisel (2-4), Jordan Wilkes (1-1) and Harper Kamp (1-1).

Cal Pouring in the Points So Far in 2007-08
Having surpassed 100 points twice and with four players averaging at least 9.8 ppg, Cal is pouring in 81.5 ppg so far this season, a figure that ranks second in the Pac-10. In the history of the program, the Bears have averaged more than 80 ppg just once before - 83.9 ppg in 1970-71. The current squad first broke the 100-point barrier In a 117-74 win over Jackson State Dec. 5 - the third-most points ever put up by Ca - while the Bears' 102-65 victory over Long Beach State gave them two 100-point games in the same season for the first time since 1995-96.

Cal's Highest-Scoring Teams1. 1970-71   83.9 ppg2. 2007-08   81.5 ppg3. 1994-95   79.9 ppg4. 1992-93   79.3 ppg5. 1993-94   78.6 ppg

Bears Dominating Boards in Early Season Contests
Cal has outrebounded its opponents in nine of 11 games this year and enters Thursday's game with a +6.0 rebound margin. DeVon Hardin (9.9 rpg) and Ryan Anderson (9.4 rpg) have been the most dominant forces on the glass. Hardin opened the year with 12 or more rebounds in five straight games and grabbed a team-best 16 boards at Nevada, while Anderson already has six double-doubles. So far, the Bears have had at least a 10-rebound differential four times - +14 at Nevada (48-34), +21 vs. Missouri (41-20), +11 vs. Jackson State (43-32) and +12 vs. Delaware State (31-19). And how rare is it for Cal to post such a margin? The Bears haven't been +4.0 or better for a full season since 1992-93 (+4.6) or +5.0 or better since 1968-69 (+6.5). This year's statistics represent quite a turnaround from last season when Cal's margin was -2.6.

Top Rebound Margins in School HistorySeason    Cal Reb   Opp Reb   Margin1959-60   46.8      35.6      +11.21968-69   53.2      46.7      +6.52007-08   37.6      31.6      +6.01967-68   52.2      46.4      +5.81958-59   45.1      40.1      +5.0

Year of the Sophomore for Golden Bears
In many circles around the country, the 2007-08 season has been deemed the Year of the Freshman for the number of quality newcomers on college rosters. But at Cal, the campaign can easily be called the Year of the Sophomore. The Bears' second-year players are combining to average 61.6 ppg, or 75.6 percent of Cal's total. The team's top three scorers are all sophomores, led by Ryan Anderson's 22.2 ppg. He is followed by Patrick Christopher with 17.0 ppg and Jerome Randle with 13.4 ppg. Each player has already set a career high, as well. Anderson poured in 36 points at Nevada, Christopher had 26 vs. Jackson State, and Randle came through with 26 points against North Dakota State.

Cal Production by Class            Points (Avg.)   Rebounds (Avg.)   Assists (Avg.)Senior      147 (13.4)      137 (12.5)        35 (3.2)Junior      0 (0.0)         0 (0.0)           0 (0.0)Sophomore   678 (61.6)      215 (19.5)        140 (12.7)Freshman    72 (6.5)        35 (3.2)          13 (1.2)

Cal Shooting Well from Free Throw Line Again
Having connected on at least 80 percent of its free throw attempts in five of its last seven games, Cal has raised its overall rate to 75.6 percent (No. 18 in NCAA). Individually, Ryan Anderson leads the Pac-10 at 85.0 percent (51-60). He has connected on 28 of his last 29 tries (96.6%), which included a streak of 22 in a row from Nov. 28 through Dec. 22. Last year, the Bears set a school record by sinking 76.9 percent, which was good for third-best in the country. But perhaps more impressively, Cal is getting to the stripe with far more regularity in 2007-08 than it did in '06-07, averaging 22.4 trips per game compared to 15.8. In addition, the Bears have made more free throws (186) than their opponents have tried (174) this year. Only once in school history - 2005-06 - did Cal maintain such an advantage for an entire season.

Top Free Throw Rates in School HistoryYear      FT-FTA    Pct2006-07   400-520   .7692007-08   186-246   .7561986-87   513-698   .7352005-06   525-716   .7331988-89   544-742   .733

Hardin Up to Third in Cal Career Blocks
With 22 blocks so far this season, senior C DeVon Hardin has moved into third place on the Bears' all-time list with 117. He had a high of four in the opener vs. Southern Miss, when he also finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Hardin's average of 2.00 bpg is just ahead of school-record pace; the mark of 1.96 bpg was set by Michael Stewart in 1993-94 when he swatted 59 shots. Hardin has led Cal in blocks each of the past two seasons. He totaled 48 as a sophomore in 2006 - No. 5 on the Bear charts - and had a team-best 21 last year despite being limited to just 11 games due to injury. Hardin's individual game high is five, a mark he set against Santa Clara on Nov. 20, 2006, and he has had at least three in a game 15 times.

Cal Career Blocked Shot Leaders1. Michael Stewart (1994-97)   2072. Solomon Hughes (1999-02)    1223. DeVon Hardin (2004- )       117

Anderson on Track to Be Cal's First 1,000-Point Sophomore
Now tossing in 22.2 ppg, sophomore F Ryan Anderson leads the Pac-10 and ranks 13th nationally in scoring. Not only has he scored at least 20 points in a game seven times this year - including a career-best 36-point effort at Nevada Nov. 28 - he is shooting 54.1 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from three-point range (23-55) and a Pac-10-best 85.0 percent from the free throw line (51-60). Last season, Anderson totaled the second-most points by a freshman in Cal history; his 539 points trail only the 590 tallied by Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1995-96. Anderson is also on track to become the first Cal sophomore ever to reach the 1,000-point level. To date, he has 783 points and at his current rate, he will reach the plateau in just 10 more games.

Cal Sophomore Career Scoring LeadersName                          Frosh   Soph   Total1. Brian Hendrick (1990-91)   478     492    9702. Leon Powe (2004, 06)       409     553    9623. Lamond Murray (1992-93)    367     572    9394. Jason Kidd (1993-94)       378     500    8785. Ryan Anderson (2007-08)    539     244    783

Jerome Randle Ignites Bears from Outside
With his ability to hit from way outside, sophomore G Jerome Randle sparked a pair of decisive runs to lead Cal to the championship of the Golden Bear Classic last weekend, earning both tournament MVP and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. In the first round vs. Long Beach State last Friday, he had 13 points during a 21-3 spurt when Cal went from a 9-2 deficit to a 23-12 lead. Then in the title game vs. North Dakota State, Randle had 19 of his career-high 26 points after the break to help the Bears turn a 35-28 halftime shortfall into an 86-72 win. Randle missed the first two contests of the year after undergoing a kidney biopsy Oct. 29 (results revealed a mild inflammation that can be treated with medication). Since his return, he has tossed in 13.4 ppg on 49.4 percent shooting from the floor, including 50 percent (18-36) from three-point distance. Randle was 9-for-13 from behind the arc in the Golden Bear Classic and has made more than half his attempts five times in nine outings.

Patrick Christopher One of Most Improved In Pac-10
After averaging 5.2 ppg and reaching double figures just four times as a freshman last year, G Patrick Christopher has shown off a new-found scoring ability this season, reaching double digits in nine games. Now tossing in 17.0 ppg (6th in the Pac-10), he is scoring 11.8 ppg more than he did last year. Christopher tied his high from his freshman campaign with 24 points against Nicholls State Nov. 19, then set a personal best with 26 points vs. Jackson State Dec. 5. Christopher also paced the Bears vs. Southern Miss (19 points) in the opener and had a team-high 18 points against Missouri Dec. 1. In addition, he is grabbing 3.4 rpg and is fourth on the team with 24 assists (2.2 apg).

With Hardin in Middle, Defense Returns to Form
This season, the Bears have limited their opponents to 40.5 percent shooting from the floor and out-rebounded them by 6.0 per game, and much of the reason for those figures can be traced to the return of DeVon Hardin to the lineup. Not only does the 6-11 senior center have a team-leading 22 blocks so far, but he also averages 9.9 rpg, having grabbed at least 12 rebounds five times. Cal's defensive stats represent quite a turnaround from last year. During the final 22 games of the season when Hardin was sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot, the Bears surrendered 49.7 percent shooting and were beaten on the boards by a 3.8 margin.

                         With Hardin in '07-08   Without Hardin in '06-07                         (11 games)              (final 22 games)FG% Allowed              40.5% (269-665)         49.7% (579-1166)Rebound Margin           +6.0                    -3.8Opponents with >40 FG%   4 of 11                 20 of 22

Walk-ons Continue Tradition of Filling Significant RolesThroughout Ben Braun's tenure as head coach at Cal, he has
been able to mold walk-ons into significant contributors to the Bears, and this season is no different. With Cal down to six available scholarship players for the Nov. 19 contest vs. Nicholls State, sophomore G David Liss earned his first start and came through with eight points and four assists in 37 minutes. In addition, non-scholarship players Nican Robinson (9 games), Eddie Miller (7 games), Patrick Armstrong (2 games) and Thomas Fang (2 games) have all seen action to date. Among prior walk-ons to play for the Bears: Alex Pribble, now a student assistant who started Cal's final five games at a wing spot last year; Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who finished his career in 2002 ranked fourth on the school's all-time three-point shooting list (40.7 percent); and A.J. Diggs (2001-04) who picked off 158 steals, good for third all-time in Bear annals.

Golden Bear Notes ...
Cal is 59-8 (.881) vs. non-conference competition at home since Haas Pavilion opened in the fall of 1999, including 8-1 this season ... with 102 points vs. Long Beach State and 117 points vs. Jackson State, Cal has scored at least 100 points twice in a season for the first time since the first two games of the 1995-96 campaign ... Nikola Knezevic paces the Bears in both assists (38, 3.5 apg) and steals (9), and had a high of six assists at Kansas State ... Ryan Anderson was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week Dec. 3 after scoring a career-high 36 points at Nevada and adding 15 points and 11 boards against Missouri ... sophomore C Jordan Wilkes has connected on the three career three-pointes - vs. Southern Miss and Long Beach State this season and against Arizona State on Feb. 18, 2006 ... Wilkes also pulled down a career-high 7 rebounds vs. Jackson State ... senior F Eric Vierneisel set career highs in both rebounding (6) and assists (5) in the opener vs. Southern Miss, the matched both totals at Kansas State ... Cal began the season 6-0, its best start since going 7-0 in 1994-95 ... Cal has added six non-scholarship players to the roster, four of whom return from last year (Nican Robinson, Thomas Fang, David Liss, Patrick Armstrong) and two who are new to the team (Jordan Fillmore, Eddie Miller) ... 2007-08 marks the 99th season of Cal basketball ... the Bears feature two 7-footers on the roster for the first time ever in 7-0 Jordon Wilkes and 7-2 Max Zhang - the tallest player in school history ... Cal had three players score at least 20 points vs. San Diego State (Ryan Anderson 23, Jerome Randle 21, Patrick Christopher 21) for the first time since an 84-80 OT win over Oregon State on Feb. 17, 2007 (Christopher 24, Ayinde Ubaka 21, Theo Robertson 21) ... Ben Braun ranks 10th among active coach with 544 victories.

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