California Golden Bears (13-6)
- Latest BTD Pac-12 Power Rankings: 4th Overall (4-3)
- Head Coach: Cuonzo Martin (3rd Season)
- Top Performer: Ivan Rabb (14.9 PPG, 10.8 RPG)
- Points For: 69.8 PPG (T-263rd)
- Points Against: 63.0 PPG (19th)
- Last Game/Streak: 86-63 Loss at #11 Oregon (1L)
California heads to Corvallis fresh off their first loss since January 5th and so far in conference play, the Golden Bears haven’t lost to a team not named UCLA, Arizona or Oregon. The consensus for head coach Cuonzo Martin and company this season is that this California group is good...but not great just yet. Is that enough of an open door for Oregon State to take advantage of?
For Beaver nation, the opponent seems almost not to matter at this point, as Oregon State has been their own worst enemy all season long. The Beavers can’t get to the free-throw line to jump-start their lackluster offensive abilities, they can’t defend any style or pace of play and at the end of the day, they’ve only knocked off one Division I opponent (Kent State) since November 13th. It’s not just head coach Wayne Tinkle who is left to scratch their head, but literally, anyone who bleeds black and orange. How can you fix something so incredibly broken at the moment?
The games will go on for Oregon State and with that, California brings another huge challenge to the friendly confines of Gill Coliseum. The Golden Bears are one of the country’s elite defensive teams, who are holding opponents to a stingy 63 points per contest, good enough for the nation’s 19th best scoring defense. That’s bad news for a Beavers group that hasn’t scored more than 63 points once yet in Pac-12 play this season.
Offensively, Cuonzo Martin digs deep into his bench at times looking for a spark, but in general, the bulk of the Golden Bears’ production comes from a stable, four-man quartet. Led by sophomore forward Ivan Rabb (14.9 PPG), the new focal point of the roster with last year’s duo of Jaylen Brown (NBA) and Jordan Mathews (Gonzaga) gone, California doesn’t seem to mind their top-heavy scoring line-ups. Freshman guard Charlie Moore (14.3 PPG) has been one of the biggest surprises in the conference, while a duo of seniors in Jabari Bird (14.0 PPG) and Grant Mullins (9.3 PPG), are never too far from an absolutely prolific performance.
For Oregon State, the Beavers will need to channel a bit of their early first-half magic from the Stanford game, when the ball was swinging around the floor with confidence and shots were falling were ease. However, Oregon State will need to keep their mojo rocking for a bit longer, as their disgraceful disappearing acts, especially to start the second-halves of games, have been downright atrocious. Their may not be much of a reason to believe in the Beavers at this point but maybe tonight is one of those games that signals a change within this Oregon State program.
Have faith, Beaver nation. Have faith.
Players To Watch
Ivan Rabb (Sophomore - Forward)
Projected as a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (meaning he’ll depart campus after the conclusion of this season), has used his second season in Berkeley to turn into the legitimate professional prospect that everyone thought he would be coming out of high school. Rabb plays heavy minutes for this Cal team, a sign that he’s not only the biggest talent on this roster, but that head coach Cuonzo Martin is finally beginning to trust the double-double machine a bit more.
Jabari Bird (Senior - Guard)
The rock that has kept this Cal group together, Jabari Bird is finally a senior (capping off a Perry Ellis-type of career), who has averaged at least twenty minutes a night for the last four years for this Golden Bears program. In a way, it’ll be almost sad to see him go. Bird has upped both his scoring and rebounding production in his final season and the Vallejo native now has one goal in mind for this Cal group...a return to the NCAA Tournament.
Grant Mullins (Senior - Guard)
A bit of a unique type of talent to try and fit into this Golden Bears roster, when Grant Mullins transferred into Cal, after a four-year career at Columbia, it was unknown what kind of impact the 6’ 3” sharpshooter would have. Almost twenty games into his send-off campaign as well, I think his role within this Cal roster has been clearly defined. When Mullins gets going, and he has the ability to, it’ll be from behind-the-arc, where he’s posted multiple five-three-pointer performances already this season. It’s crucial that Oregon State doesn’t allow this sharpshooter to find any rhythm in this one.