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Oregon State Basketball: California Golden Bears Preview (Game 22)

California, show your teeth.

NCAA Basketball: California at Duke Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

California Golden Bears (9-11, 3-4)

  • Head Coach: Mark Fox (1st Season)
  • Top Performer: Matt Bradley (17.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG)
  • Points For: 63.1 PPG (400th)
  • Points Against: 68.2 PPG (152nd)
  • Last Game/Streak: 77-72 Loss vs. Oregon (1L)

The Skinny

On Thursday night against Stanford, the Beavers kept their head above water for another day. On Saturday in Berkeley, the squad will try to make it two-in-a-row heading into a Civil War match-up with rival Oregon, which is developing into even more of a marquee game on their schedule. Welcome to life in the Pac-12. There’s simply no truck-stops here.

To get to that match-up with the Ducks, the Beavers first have to make their way through California, a gradually improving team under first-year head coach Mark Fox. The Golden Bears were expected to have an extremely rough go of things with a huge turnover in their roster, but Fox has calmed the seas and helped this group to a 3-4 mark in conference play. It’s the small victories that the program needs to find some stability as they’re now on their fourth coach since 2014.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California
Guard Matt Bradley is having an all-league type of season for a rebuilding California team.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

This season for the Golden Bears, the show runs through Matt Bradley (17.6 PPG), a stocky 6’ 3” talent who leads a strong core of guards. While Bradley isn’t always tasked with ball-handling duties, which is often deferred to Paris Austin (7.7 PPG), the options in the back-court for California give pieces like Bradley, Austin, Kareem South (10.1 PPG) and even Joel Brown (2.4 PPG) times to pick their spots in the team’s methodical offensive approach. To put it lightly, California won’t be breaking any scoreboards anytime soon. But they may be taking the air out the basketball with their lethargic pace.

Up-front, the bigs for the Golden Bears are serviceable, but offensively, they’re the type of group that could struggle with a true rim presence in Oregon State’s Kylor Kelley. Grant Anticevich (8.3 PPG) and Andre Kelly (6.8 PPG) are the two more offensively gifted of the crew, while seven-foot freshman Lars Thiemann (3.7 PPG) is used more for size and as a true center match-up. Sporadically used swingman Juhwan Harris-Dyson (4.0 PPG) has his moments, but overall, it’s a bit of a predictable show. When you talk about California’s team this year, the focus is in the back-court, not on the interior.

Looking at this game from the Oregon State side though, the magnitude of this contest really can’t be overstated. It is so crucial that the Beavers continue to right the ship and not fall backwards and heck, their coaches job may even be depending on it at this point. It’s a winnable contest for Oregon State. They need to take advantage of that.

Player To Watch

NCAA Basketball: California at Duke
California needs Kareem South to find his moments during games.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem South (Guard - Senior)

The grad transfer from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Kareem South sometimes plays with the poise of a veteran but the production of a freshman, with his hot-and-cold tendencies. In two of the team’s last three contests, he’s looked his comfortable self with 12 and 13 point showings. However, in 22 minutes against UCLA, South might as well have taken the night off, finishing without a point in a 10-point loss.

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, February 1st
  • Time: 1:00 PM PT
  • Location: Haas Pavilion (Berkeley, CA)
  • Coverage: Pac-12 Network