Cal prepares for UC Davis on heels of loss to No. 22 Texas

Josh Kahen/Staff

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The last time Cal men’s basketball played Texas, it lost in the 2K Empire Classic championship in 2014. This time, the Bears fell to the No. 22 Longhorns in the consolation match last Friday 62-45 to become the only two-loss team of the tournament. Cal fell to 4-2 after falling to multiple ranked teams at the 2K Empire Classic last week.

The lackluster performance against Duke bled into the battle against Texas, as Cal never had a lead and ended up with its lowest point total since it lost to Utah 77-43 in 2018.

Matt Bradley did have a comeback game after only scoring seven points against the Blue Devils the previous night. He scored 22 points on 5-12 shooting and went a perfect 11-11 from the line, setting a new career record on free throw attempts and makes.

His teammates, however, shot only 36% from the field and 12% from three-point range. To make matters worse for Cal, it failed to make a three-pointer throughout the second half and compiled 12 turnovers. The Longhorns were given a 13-point cushion as a result, and the game slowly seeped out of reach for Cal.

Cal’s center Lars Thiemann scored a career-high eight points on 4-8 shooting in what was one of the few positive takeaways on the night.

The Longhorns had four players in double-digit points this game. Matt Coleman III led the team with 14 points and Jericho Sims was one rebound away from a double-double with 12 points on 6-7 shooting.

Texas was also passing the ball much more than Cal and had 17 assists when the Bears only had eight. Despite both teams having 34 rebounds, the Longhorns were able to capitalize on second chances better and had 12 second-chance points to six for Cal.

Cal has lost both of its games in the 2K Empire Classic, but both of those have been against ranked teams with top 25 defenses. It seems clear that Cal cannot compete with nationally ranked teams at this point — the Bears’ offense struggles against good defenses, but luckily for the Bears, they do not face another ranked team until No. 25 Washington comes to UC Berkeley in a couple of months.

Tomorrow, right before the Thanksgiving recess, Cal returns to Haas Pavilion to take on UC Davis for its fifth home game of the season. UC Davis is only 2-5 this season and has not faced a single major-conference opponent.

This is one of the few matchups in which the Bears are heavily favored since the Aggies are near the bottom of the country in overall offensive and defensive efficiency.

UC Davis will be seeking to end its four-game losing streak, including a two-overtime loss to the Virginia Military Institute. Its road trip this week will take them to Berkeley before heading to Salt Lake City to take on Utah. Regardless of the outcome of these games, the Aggies should be happy knowing that their young team will be getting important minutes before Big West Conference play begins. Of their 15 roster spots, seven are freshmen or redshirt freshmen, and three are sophomores.

Currently, senior center Matt Neufeld leads the Aggies in scoring with more than 14 points per game. It will be an interesting matchup between the senior and the freshman centers from UC Davis and Cal.

The Bears should be able to quickly put away the Aggies tomorrow to snap their two-game slump, but we will see how much the losses against Duke and Georgetown stay in the minds of Cal players.

Trilok Reddy covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].