Before the game, Ben Braun was worried about the possible effects of the hiatus. As he reported later, "I was concerned about our team offensively. I thought our team did a really good job in the first half. We were crisp."
His complaint was. "Had we rebounded defensively, we would have scored more points."
Cal attacked Delaware State's zone and traps from the opening tip. The Cal coach said later that he felt it was one of their better offensive halves.
The Hornets featured one outstanding player, forward Roy Bright. Braun called him a "big-time player." Bright, who began his college career at Cincinnati, led the visitors with 25 points, 17 in the first half.
After the game, Christopher showed his respect for the Hornet's top player saying, "He's a great scorer."
Braun commented that Patrick had " ... made him work. He made him work for everything he got in the second half."
Christopher started the game by drilling three straight jumpers from outside the arc as Cal sprinted to a quick 11-2 lead - and the Bears controlled the game the rest of the way.
Ryan Anderson scored the next 8 points for the Bears on his way to a game high 27. Bright kept it close by scoring 12 straight points for the Hornets, but the Bears began to dominate inside. Pounding it in to Anderson, the Bears opened up a 40-23 lead with 3:52 left in the half.
It was 45-33 at the break. Cal had shot a nearly unbelievable 70% from the floor and had just two turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Bears hit five of eight three-pointers, yet surprisingly led by only 12 at the half as the visitors also shot well (50%). Six Delaware State offensive rebounds helped keep things relatively close.
Cal had a tremendous height advantage inside and exploited it. The Bears scored nine buckets inside the paint in the first half, led by Anderson and freshman Harper Kamp. Of Kamp, the Cal coach said, "He plays the game at a really high level. He positions well, he screens well - I really like what he's brought to our team."
Cal came out a bit flat in the second half. The Hornets closed to within 8 at 48-40 on a jumper by Joe Dickens, but Nikola Knezevic hit a three from the left corner to put Cal up by eleven. The lead was double digits the rest of the way.
Said Braun, "I thought our defensive pressure picked up in the second half." It never really seemed that Delaware State was a real threat after that.
For the game, Cal hit a solid 55% from the floor. The Bears were 7 for 16 on threes and 15 of 20 from the line. They had just eight turnovers as against 14 assists.
This was a solid performance as the players put the disappointment of the loss to Kansas State behind them. Issues remain on the defensive glass, and once again first half fouls limited Hardin; he played just nine minutes. The Cal center will have to eliminate unnecessary fouls if the team is to be successful when the conference teams start arriving in January.
Next up is Utah this Saturday afternoon at Haas. The Utes will be a bigger challenge even if they are not a typical Utah team.
Another attraction Saturday: Cal fans can look forward to the debut of Duke transfer Jamal Boykin.
Everyone associated with the program is hoping for and expecting tremendous energy from Boykin. The former Blue Devil has been a great presence on the bench during the games -now he gets to contribute on the floor. The added front court depth will certainly help the Bears as they head into the New Year.
- Patrick Christopher had 17 for Cal. Braun noted (without approval) that Christopher did not have a single defensive rebound in his game-high 36 minutes.
- Jerome Randle was just 1 for 8 from the floor.
- Hardin and Anderson each had nine rebounds to lead Cal. The Bears built a 31-19 edge on the boards for the game.
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