The Cal Golden Bears host another ranked opponent in the Creighton Bluejays today at Haas Pavilion. The 16th-ranked Bluejays (9 – 1) are coming off a 77 – 61 win over Akron Sunday in Omaha. Cal (6 – 2) is seeking to end a two-game losing streak, including a 76 – 75 disappointing loss at the hands of UNLV Sunday in Berkeley.
Creighton is led by All-American candidate Doug McDermott, who averages 22.7 points per game, and 6.7 rebounds a game. Center Greg Echenique scores 10.5 ppg and leads the Bluejays in rebounding at 7.1 rpg. Reserve Ethan Wragge rounds out a balanced attack with 9.8 ppg, followed by Austin Chatman (8.5 ppg), Grant Gibbs (7.0 ppg), and Josh Jones (7.0 ppg). Gibbs chips in 3.9 rpg, and leads the Bluejays in assists at 6.6 apg, followed by Chatman at 4.5 apg.
The high-scoring Bluejays average 80.2 ppg, while allowing opponents 61.0 ppg. They shoot an outstanding 51.9% from the field, including 42.1% behind the 3-point line, and 76.4% from the charity stripe.
Cal is led by sharpshooters Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs on the perimeter. Crabbe averages 21.9 ppg with Cobbs closely behind at 17.8 ppg. David Kravish, Richard Solomon, and Crabbe top the Golden Bears in rebounding with 7.9, 6.4 and 5.6 rpg, respectively. Cobbs and Brandon Smith lead Cal in assists with 3.6 and 3.0 apg, respectively.
Cal is scoring at a 72.4 ppg clip, with opponents scoring 66.2 ppg. The Bears are shooting 48.1% from the field, 35.3% behind the 3-point arc, and 71.6% from the free throw line.
The keys to Cal winning will be converting on their free throws, reducing turnovers, and hitting perimeter jump shots to keep the Creighton defense honest. On defense, it will be essential to limit McDermott’s touches, as he can score in a variety of ways, from the perimeter and in the post. Denying him the ball will be important, and when that fails, force him to pass out of the double team. Cal must also keep Echenique off the boards.
Creighton will look to run after each missed shot, and have their playmakers penetrate and dish to open shooters on the perimeter. McDermott’s versatility creates match up problems, as he can drain the 3-point shot, as well as score in the post. This applies pressure on the defender who often commits fouls, and enables McDermott to convert on 85.2% of his free throws. Creighton will have to tighten up their perimeter defense, as both Crabbe and Cobbs can knock down 3-point shots with consistency.
Game time is 8 pm Pacific time.
Topics: Allen Crabbe, Austin Chatman, Brandon Smith, Cal, Cal Bears, California Bears, California Bears Basketball, College Basketball, Creighton Bluejays, David Kravish, Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge, Grant Gibbs, Greg Echenique, Haas Pavilion, Josh Jones, Justin Cobbs, NCAA, Richard Solomon, University Of California Golden Bears