GAME NOTES: Golden State foes get together in Berkeley tonight, as the California Golden Bears clash with the Anteaters of UC Irvine.
The Golden Bears are set to stay awhile in California as they play the next four games within the state boundaries, and are not set to venture further until a Dec. 22 meeting with Creighton in Nebraska. The team just returned from a trip to Hawaii where it took out Arkansas (85-77) early in the Maui Invitational before falling to both Syracuse (92-81) and Dayton (82-64).
As for the Anteaters, they are enjoying a two-game win streak at the moment, and victories in five of the last six after starting the campaign with back- to-back defeats versus Fresno State and Pacific. The team is coming off a commanding 79-53 win at Sacramento State on Saturday.
The Golden Bears lead the all-time series by a count of 5-2, thanks in part to a double-digit triumph in the most recent encounter two seasons ago.
UCI shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the first half versus the Hornets, leaving the visitors with a one-point deficit at the break. However, over the final 20 minutes the Anteaters erupted for 67.9 percent accuracy, compared to a woeful 26.7 percent for the hosts, on the way to the blowout decision. Chris McNealy posted 15 points and six rebounds for UCI, followed by Luke Nelson and Alex Young with 14 and 12 points, respectively, the latter also handing out six assists.
Through eight games, the Anteaters have four players scoring in double figures, led by Will Davis who is up to 12.3 ppg on the strength of 61.5 percent shooting from the field. Davis is also first on the unit with close to eight rebounds per contest, which is exactly what the rebounding margin is for UCI at the moment. McNealy (11.8 ppg), Nelson (11.5 ppg) and Young (10.8 ppg) not only supply ample offense on their own, but they've also combined to hand out 84 assists which is just 15 fewer than all opponents combined thus far.
Justin Cobbs scored a career-high 31 points, shooting 12-of-20 from the floor before fouling out against Dayton, but still he and the rest of the Golden Bears were overwhelmed by the Flyers in an 18-point decision the last time out. David Kravish added a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, not to mention posting five blocked shots in the losing effort. California shot just 40.4 percent from the floor in the meeting, including 1-of-7 beyond the arc.
Cobbs, the leading scorer for Cal in the last two games, is now producing 15.6 ppg to pace a total of five players in double figures. Also first on the unit with 41 assists, Cobbs seems to be finding a groove of late, although he is still shooting only 17.6 percent from beyond the arc. Jabari Bird (13.1 ppg) tries to make up for the shortcomings of Cobbs out on the perimeter, as he converts 46.7 percent of his tries which is actually better than his 43.9 percent from the floor at the moment.
The Anteaters have exhibited some spirited play of late, but with Cobbs on the other side attacking the basket UCI might be running out of luck.
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