California looks to build on a surprising win over San Diego State and take another step toward Pac-12 play on Saturday when the Bears host Cal State Fullerton, which has won five in row. The Bears’ nonconference schedule has been marked by ugly losses to Chaminade and Central Arkansas, but first-year coach Wyking Jones believes his team is trending in the right direction following the road victory over the Aztecs.
Junior guard Don Coleman scored 19 points while freshman forward Justice Sueing added 12 against San Diego State as the Bears held the Aztecs to 62 points, well below their average of 80.8. Freshman guard Darius McNeill chipped in 10 points for the Bears, who were coming off a 27-point home loss to Central Arkansas. “We needed this one,” Coleman told reporters. “We needed a big one to get our confidence back. We knew the last game we struggled and we knew we had to bounce back.” Cal ranks last in the Pac-12 in scoring at 73.1 points per game and will be tested by a stingy Cal State Fullerton defense allowing 65.6 points per game.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT CAL STATE FULLERTON (6-3): The Titans have registered wins over Harvard and Portland and boast three proven scorers in junior guard Kyle Allman (16.0 points per game), sophomore forward Jackson Rowe (12.9) and junior guard Khalil Ahmad (14.3), the reigning Big West player of the week. The 6-foot-4 Ahmad made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 34 points in last Saturday’s 91-83 victory over Utah Valley as the Titans set a season-high point total. “I feel like our team is getting better,” coach Dedrique Taylor told reporters. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. But for the most part, I think we’re right where we need to be.”
ABOUT CAL (4-6): Coleman averages 20.6 points to lead the Bears, who outrebounded San Diego State 33-24 in last Saturday’s 63-62 victory. Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee averages 11.7 points and 7.6 rebounds while playing alongside 7-foot-1 center Kingsley Okoroh, who has 25 blocks through 10 games. Jones continues to be pleased by the development of freshman guard Juhwan Harris-Dyson, who averages 4.5 points on 52.2 percent shooting and made two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to help seal the win over the Aztecs.
1. The teams are meeting for the first time since March 13, 1987, when Cal won 72-68 in overtime.
2. Cal State Fullerton plays five of its next six games on the road.
3. McNeill has made at least one 3-pointer in each of his first 10 collegiate games.
PREDICTION: Cal 67, Cal State Fullerton 63