Dec. 10, 2001
Fresno State Bulldogs (7-3) at California Golden Bears (5-1)
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
TV: KRON (Channel 4)
Radio: KABL (960 AM)
In a rematch from the 2001 NCAA Tournament, Cal hosts Fresno State Tuesday night in the Bears' last game before taking a 10-day break for final exams. Cal is off to a 5-1 start this season, including a perfect 5-0 mark in Haas Pavilion, and has won 15 consecutive games against non-conference opponents in Berkeley.
The match-up with the Bulldogs affords the Bears the opportunity to avenge an 82-70 defeat to Fresno State in the first round of the South Regional last March in Memphis, Tenn. Cal entered the game with a slightly higher seed (8th to Fresno's 9th), but the Bulldogs took an early lead and held off three second-half comeback attempts by the Bears.
This year, Cal has the advantage of playing in Berkeley, where the Bears have outscored their first five opponents by an average of 70.4 to 54.0. No team has totaled more than 63 points against Cal in Haas Pavilion, and as a result, the Bears lead the Pac-10 in scoring defense (58.2 ppg).
Cal is also taking advantage of a pair of 6-11 starters in senior Solomon Hughes and freshman Jamal Sampson. Hughes tops the Pac-10 in field goal accuracy (65.0%), but it is the combination of the two big men that has enabled the Bears to seize the league lead in blocked shots with 5.83 per game. Sampson has 15 rejections, while Hughes has 11, placing both of them in the conference's Top 5 individually.
On the offensive end, Cal snapped out of an early season slump by pouring in 88 points against Saint Louis last Thursday - 17 points higher than its previous best output. Junior forward Joe Shipp led four players in double figures with a career-high 24 points.
Shipp, who has paced Cal in scoring three times in six games, has taken over the team lead with 12.7 ppg. However, he is just one of seven different players who are averaging at least 7.5 ppg. Reserve wing Ryan Forehan-Kelly is the only other Bear in double figures (10.0 ppg).