Southern finds the softest landing spot on its season-opening, four-game trip when the Jaguars take on winless California in a nonconference game Friday night at Berkeley, Calif.
About 20 hours before it will host the annual Big Game against football rival Stanford, Cal (0-3) will take a fourth shot at a first basketball win, this time against the Jaguars (0-3), who have been just as futile.
If the Golden Bears are to break into the win column, coach Mark Fox believes a faster start would help. Cal has trailed UC Davis, Kansas State and UC San Diego by a total of 114-84 at halftime.
“Does the bus have to run over you before you concentrate?” Fox said after Tuesday’s 64-62 road loss to UC San Diego, in a game the Golden Bears trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half. “This group has proven we have to learn everything the hard way.”
Texas transfer Devin Askew has made an immediate impact for Cal with double-figure scoring in all three games and a 16.3 points-per-game average.
Bryson Etienne has done the same for Southern after transferring from Texas Southern. He had 25 and 17 points in his first two games for the Jaguars before being held to nine in a 72-54 loss at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday.
Southern also has lost to UNLV and Arizona on its 12-day West Coast swing.
Southern coach Sean Woods expects more despite last year’s 17-win team having been hurt significantly by graduations.
“My staff and I did a really good job bringing in the pieces that we needed, which was shooting and physical toughness,” Woods said. “We recruited nothing but winners.”
Brion Whitley, one of the top returners from last season, paced the Jaguars against Saint Mary’s with 15 points.
The schools haven’t met in men’s basketball since November of 2004, a game Cal won at home 82-63.
–Field Level Media