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)
|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|
|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)
|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*|
|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|