Basketball: USC game preview

TIPOFF: 8 p.m. Saturday at the Galen Center, Los Angeles. TV/Radio: FSN/910 AM.

Lots of questions for Cal to answer Saturday night against USC.

— Will the Bears avoid being swept in L.A. for the first time since 2009?

— Will either Brandon Smith (concussion) or Ricky Kreklow (foot) be available to help alleviate the Bears’ manpower issues?

— Will the team ever make another 3-point basket?

Coming off a 79-65 loss at UCLA on Thursday, the Bears take on a USC squad that rallied past Stanford the same night.

The Bears are fighting injuries, and both Smith and Kreklow are listed as “questionable” for this one. My guess is Smith is more likely to play than Kreklow, who limped off the floor with 16 minutes left at UCLA and did not return.

Against the Bruins, the Bears stayed out of early foul trouble and were able to give their starters extended minutes. Allen Crabbe played 39 minutes, Justin Cobbs 38 and David Kravish 35.

If the Bears were fatigued, it didn’t show under the backboards, where Cal outrebounded UCLA 45-37, including 20 offensive boards. But perhaps they were tired, converting those second chances into just 10 points.

The Bears have missed 20 consecutive shots from 3-point range, dating back to the final 6 minutes of their Dec. 22 win over Prairie View A&M. Crabbe said defenses are taking away the shot, and Crabbe did respond by attacking the rim, at least in the second half.

Cal has slipped to 11th in the Pac-12 in 3-point accuracy at .295. Certainly they won’t win often unless that number climbs.

THE TROJANS: After a difficult nonconference schedule that produced a 5-8 record, USF rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Stanford 71-69 in its Pac-12 opener on Thursday. … Senior PG Jio Fontan, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, scored 15 points including the two decisive free throws with 6.9 seconds left. … The victory over Stanford equaled the Trojans’ conference win total of a year ago, when they were 1-17. … USC’s nonconference defeats included Illinois, Marquette, San Diego State, New Mexico and Minnesota. … The Trojans rank last in the Pac-12 in scoring (63.2 ppg), last in 3-point defense (37.4 percent) and, surprisingly, last in rebounding margin (plus-0.4), despite having three 7-footers in their rotation. 

THE SERIES: Cal leads 131-120. The Bears won both matchups a year ago.

ETC: Junior Allen Crabbe now ranks No. 22 on Cal’s career scoring chart with 1,202 points. Next up: Doug True with 1,215 points. … Crabbe also is Cal’s sixth-leading scorer whose point total came in no more than three seasons. … The Bears are fourth in the Pac-12 in rebounding margin at plus-7.2.

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays Washington on Wednesday at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8 p.m. 

Cal (8-5, 0-1 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 20.9 5.9
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.8 6.5
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 7.2 7.8
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 16.1 4.0*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 6.1 5.2
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 3.5 2.5*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 5.2 3.4
G Ricky Kreklow 6-6 So. 4.4 2.6


USC (6-8, 1-0)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
C Dewayne Dedmon 7-0 Jr. 6.1 6.9
PF Aaron Fuller 6-6 Sr. 3.8 3.9
SF Eric Wise 6-6 Sr. 11.6 4.6
SG Byron Wesley 6-5 So. 8.6 4.4
PG Jio Fontan 6-0 Sr. 8.7 5.2*
Key reserves
C James Blasczyk 7-1 Sr. 7.7 2.1
C Omar Oraby 7-2 Jr. 7.9 4.4
G J.T. Terrell 6-3 Jr. 8.8 1.9


Jeff Faraudo

  • The Wisdom Cow

    To quote somebody from each Star Wars movie, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

  • Dan

    Watching US Army All American Bowl, just saw a DL from Upland pick UW over SC, UCLA and Alabama. Tosh Lupoi strikes again. Cal not considered.

    You know, a progressive thinker would understand that the best recruiters are worth their weight in gold. They should not be compensated as a typical position coach. Hoping Dykes & company will make a recruiting splash, but Tedford’s bungling of the Tosh Lupoi situation (and I’m not just talking about paying him) is going to hurt for awhile. The Huskies are going to easily have a top 10 recruiting class this year. Just sayin’.

  • SteveNTexas

    USC is ranked about #150 last I saw and 0-6 vs the TOP 50.

    Another way to look at it is if USC was in the Horizon League – Anyone able to name a team in this league ? they would be at the bottom portion samewhere around 5th.

    Wisdom if you have a bad feeling about this game than you have a horrible feeling about our team. Lets not make excuses if we lose to these guys we really suck.

  • Juancho

    As much as i love following recruiting. I couldnt watch the army all america game because of how itd bum me out.

    We were the star of the show last year. Now were back to being middle of the pack in recruiting. Hopefully dykes and co have success early to boost recruiting.

    Dan – i want your opinion. Im of the belief that monty is going down the same path as tedford. But he gets a pass when tedford didnt. What do you think ?

    I posted a bunch of comparisons in another thread.

    Brethren. How do you measure our basketball program ? My answer : how far we go in the tourney.

  • Juancho

    Also with regard to tosh. As a coach i know why hes so succesful. Because the kids relate to him because hes young. Its not rocket surgery.

    If tosh ever comes back well win a rose bowl. I know that comment will incur the ire of many. But i believe that. Thats why washington did everything to take him. Thats why washington just took touiasosopo from ucla.

    Cal needs to figure out recruiting is a young mans game. I wish dykes would hire some former players on staff for recruiting.

  • wehofx

    #3 so according to your theory when ucla lost to cal poly slo, at home no less, they should have had no chance against Missou?

    they should have admitted they suck and quit?

    Sounds like you’d fire every coach in the conf – inclu romar and howland – except for s miller and t boyle?

    Juancho, the ‘ho is clearly having another HUGE recruiting year but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in a coupla years. Does the udub line improve?

    It sucked against boise and wsu. the only 2 rushing td’s wsu got all year was against the ‘ho’s d line.

    When wilcox makes the move to hc does he take the ‘ho w him? if not, what does sark do w him?

    sark’s on the hot seat, too. Not as hot as lame’s is now or jt’s was at the beg of last year but you know the alumni can’t be happy w the losses at the end.

    But, my BTB Brother, I do agree w you about young guys and recruiting. Per twitter, it seems like Zach Yenser has been hired as O Line coach. Under 30 and been w tony franklin since he played o line for him at troy. Let’s hope he can recruit! (keeping C Hunt will be a big test.)

    Go Bears! Beat $c!

  • Dan

    Juancho- I think you are right about Monty. Except Tedford had way more talent than Monty has. Monty is a much better coach than Tedford. And I do think he gets a pass since he won a P10 Championship and he took Stanford to the Final Four. But watching the team this season and last is a bit head scratching and troubling. His team gets dusted by really good teams – eerily similar to the later Tedford years. They just don’t play like what I come to expect Montgomery coached teams to play like.

    Frankly, there is this whole aspect of Cal FB and BB that if you think the bar of performance expectations are set high, then you’re an idiot in the eyes of many Cal alums. But look at what Stanford FB has accomplished. Heck, look what SDSU BB has been accomplishing. Many of the Aztec fan base strongly believe the Aztecs can go to an Elite Eight and a Final Four. And they could. Does anyone really think Cal can do that? Nope. And it’s acceptable to many Cal alums to not even aspire to that. Very strange.

    Also, re: recruiting. Those that are livid at Lupoi should get over it. Sark’s Huskies beat Tedford on the field, but beat Tedford much worse by taking Lupoi. I think Lupoi saved Sark’s job. Stack 2-3 years of recruits with Lupoinas your lead recruiter, and you can compete for Championships.

  • Juancho

    Thanks dan.