Dec. 18, 2001
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (1-6) at California Golden Bears (6-1)
Friday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m., Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA
TV: KRON (Channel 4)
Radio: KABL (960 AM)
After a 10-day break for final exams, Cal returns to the court Friday to host Mount St. Mary's in a 7 p.m. tilt at Haas Pavilion - the Bears' only action between Dec. 11 and the Golden Bear Classic (Dec. 28-29).
Cal, which is undefeated at home with a perfect 6-0 record, has won 16 consecutive games over non-conference opponents in Berkeley. Inside Haas Pavilion, the Bears' average margin of victory this year is 17.3 ppg (74.8 ppg to 57.5 ppg).
As a result, Cal has reached the Top 30 of both the RPI (27th) and Sagarin Ratings (28th).
The Bears are coming off their two most impressive performances of the season, avenging 2000-01 losses to both Saint Louis and Fresno State in the process. In its 88-63 rout of the Billikens Dec. 6, Cal shot a season-high 52.4 percent from the floor and also forced SLU into 24 turnovers. Against Fresno State Dec. 11, the Bears built a 30-point second half lead and cruised to a 97-75 win. Last year, Cal lost at Saint Louis (88-66) and fell to Fresno State (82-70) in the the NCAA Tournament.
Cal's success this season can be traced to a defense that leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense (60.6 ppg) and rates among the Top 3 in three-point percentage defense (3rd, 29.5%), blocks (2nd, 5.57 bpg) and steals (3rd, 8.71 spg).
Individually, senior guard Dennis Gates is second in the league in steals with 16 through seven games, already more than he had all of last season (14). Gates is also ninth in the Pac-10 in assists (3.71 apg) and first in assist-to-turnover ratio (3:25:1).
On the offensive end, junior forward Joe Shipp played, perhaps, the best two games of his career against Saint Louis and Fresno State. Shipp totaled a career-high 24 points vs. SLU, then bettered that effort with 31 points against the Bulldogs. During one stretch, he made 11-of-12 three-pointers, going 3-for-4 vs. Saint Louis and making his first eight vs. Fresno State. He ended the Fresno State game with a school-record nine treys (in 12 attempts).