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Basketball: The Great PG Experiment

In the 10th game of the season, determined to find a way to end freshman guard Gary Franklin’s long shooting slump, coach Mike Montgomery did the counter-intuitive thing: He put the ball in Franklin’s hands.

Franklin played long stretches of the second half at point guard Saturday vs. Cal Poly, and the move worked out OK. The Bears won 51-41 and Franklin played one of his better games of the season. Franklin finished with nine points on 3-for-6 shooting on the heels of going 3 for 23 over the previous three games.

Franklin entered the game converting just 27 percent from the field, 27.4 percent from the 3-point arc.

The switch also meant that junior Jorge Gutierrez was moved off point to the wing, where he made only 4 of 14 shots, but scored seven of his 10 points in the second half.

“I felt really good playing the point,” Franklin said. “The coaches are starting to trust me more and more in practice. I felt happy about that.”

Montgomery said he talked with a couple of Franklin’s former coaches, who suggested Franklin operates best with the ball in his hands.

“Gary will give the ball up. Jorge is sometimes hanging onto the ball too long, trying to create too much,”Montgomery said. “Gary will give it up early, trying to give others an opportunity.

“It was nothing that was revolutionary, but there were some good plays made both ways.”

Will be interesting to see if the experiment continues Wednesday when Kansas comes to town.

MORE CAL POLY LEFTOVERS:

— Senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison had one of the best games of his career, pairing 15 points with 10 rebounds. He shot 5 for 6 from the floor, 5 for 8 from the FT line and got his second career double-double.

He did it despite — or perhaps because — he was held out of practice all but one day last week so the plantar fasciitis in his two feet would not worsen. He mostly did cardio work during practice. Unfortunately, limiting MSF’s workouts may be the only recourse for a condition that typically calls for long periods of rest.

— Freshman forward Richard Solomon contributed to the Bears’ 39-31 rebounding advantage, grabbing a career-high seven to go with four points in 10 minutes off the bench. “Richard did a good job in the time he went in there,” Montgomery said. “He was active. That was good to see.”

Solomon is averaging 4.6 rebounds per game in limited minutes, and has at least three in every game — the only player on the team who can make that claim.

— The victory put Montgomery on the doorstep to 600 career victories. If No. 599 came tougher than expected, getting the next one will be even more challenging. Kansas is 10-0 and already boasts victories over three Pac-10 teams: Arizona, UCLA and USC.

Jeff Faraudo