Freshman records career-high in Cal men’s basketball’s 79-65 win

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Maya Valluru/Staff

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Haas Pavilion may be an indoor stadium, but no roof could prevent the storm of buckets rained on Thursday night. In what would become a battle between two fully clicking offenses, Cal men’s basketball notched its second win of the season, besting Wofford 79-65.

Wofford’s junior Fletcher Magee almost single-handedly propelled the Terriers offense and could do absolutely no wrong on that half of the court. When Cal gave Magee even a sliver of daylight to get his shot up, the possession was lost as the guard (a career 44 percent three-point shooter heading into this game) was unconscious from the field and beyond the arc. Magee would finish with 32 points on 10 of 16 shooting — 7 of 12 from three-point range.

Magee kicked his night off with back-to-back-to-back threes and continued to rattle off shots from there, ending the first half with an absurd 24 points on eight of ten shooting from the field and five of seven from beyond the arc. One of those five three-point bombs was an off-balance, catch-and-shoot bomb which left the Bears defense simply shaking its heads.

While Magee shot the lights out and big man Matthew Pegram had a solid game offensively, Wofford couldn’t find a viable tertiary option to supplement the scoring load. Cameron Jackson, Wofford’s second-leading scorer heading into the night, was in foul trouble for most of the night and would finish with only two points on three shot attempts.

It takes two to tango, and Magee’s metaphorical partner when it came to trading buckets was freshman guard Darius McNeill. The freshman entered the ballgame with only eight career points to his name, but he quickly established himself as Cal’s No. 1 option on the night. In just his third career game with the Bears, McNeill would finish with 17 points, four assists and three rebounds on 7 of 11 shooting, which included a trio of three-pointers.

McNeill entered the game with only eight career points to his name, but he only needed a half of basketball game to not only eclipse, but nearly double that total, ending the first 20 minutes of basketball with 15 points on a very efficient six of seven shooting from the field and three of four from beyond the arc.

The freshman was held to just two points in the second half, but senior Marcus Lee would pick up the slack on offense with 15 of his 17 points coming in the latter of the two halves. Despite an ugly seven turnovers, Lee would record his second consecutive double-double, in addition to five assists and two blocks.

“The past couple games I’ve been nervous,” McNeill said. “Coach has been telling me to play my game.”

The scoring distribution of Cal’s first two games of the season was very top-heavy, characterized by junior guard Don Coleman’s back-to-back 30 point games which accounted for a majority of Cal’s offense.

Against Wofford, however, the Bears found a way to distribute the wealth among the starting five, as four of Cal’s starters would finish with double digits in points. Coleman couldn’t put 30 on the board for a third-straight night, but he would finish with a respectable 16 points on five of nine shooting.

Following the win, Cal will travel to Hawaii for the rest of the Maui Invitational, which will continue Monday and stretch through Wednesday.

Justice delos Santos is an assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdelossantos510

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