While the holiday season is over, the Bears are still looking for their first win of the season. Cal is set to play its first game in a week, a face-off against No. 11 Oregon, on Sunday afternoon.
Historically, the Bears have fared pretty well against the Ducks: The blue and gold have an overall 22-19 record against Oregon, but recent history shows that Cal is seeking redemption. The Bears have come up short in the two teams’ last four matchups, the most recent showdown being a 32-point loss for the Bay Area squad.
While the Ducks aren’t the best team Cal has faced in terms of ranking, this Oregon squad is nothing to scoff at. It currently boasts an 8-2 record, and its only losses came to Stanford and UCLA, which are ranked in the top 10. On top of that, the Ducks lost these two games by a combined margin of 9 points.
For Cal to have a chance at victory, it must be very disciplined on the defensive end. Oregon has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, averaging a monstrous 81.5 points per game.
A deeper dive into the numbers illustrates just how the Ducks are able to put up so many points. Most importantly, they currently average an absurd 17 assists per game on just 12.3 turnovers per game. To put the numbers into context, Oregon’s opponents average just 11.9 assists per game and turn the ball over 16 times per game.
The Ducks also capitalize on these turnovers, averaging 19.7 points per game off of their opponents’ offensive blunders. Moreover, Oregon’s elite ball movement and ability to capitalize on turnovers by opposing teams have led to an impressive 48.2 overall field goal percentage and a 3-point percentage of 37.9.
This Ducks squad is the embodiment of “strength in numbers.” Its roster doesn’t have a clear first option on offense, but it has four players who average double-digit points: The top three scorers currently average 12.1, 12.2 and 12.7 points per game. Therefore, it will be tough for Cal to lock in on just one player, as any of Oregon’s top scorers are very capable of going off if they are not covered closely.
One of the Ducks’ few offensive flaws is their free throw shooting. They only convert 67.6% of their free throws, which is somewhat pedestrian compared to their other statistics. Thus, Cal should not be afraid to foul when it seems that Oregon may have the opportunity for an easy bucket.
The Bears will likely need to do these things if they hope to pull off the upset Sunday.
Justin Kim covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].