After a heartbreaking loss to UCLA, Cal prepares for an even stiffer test at the Galen Center. In a conference filled with strong defensive teams, the USC Trojans are one of the stiffest foes, thanks to the big men inside. Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson are arguably the best big man duo in the conference; they should give Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison all sorts of trouble with their rebounding ability on the defensive side on the floor and shooting effeciency on the offensive end. Norcalnick at the California Golden Blogs points out how poorly the Bears have handled Pac-10 big men this season, and it's not likely to change tonight.
If Cal is going to win this one, they'll need to play better three point defense than they did against the Bruins. UCLA knocked down 10 threes on Thursday, and they needed all of them to pull off the victory. USC is one of the better three point shooting teams in the conference though, so don't expect it to get any easier for the Bears. The only thing that Cal might have in their favor is that the Trojans are just as thin as they are depthwise after the transfer of Bryce Jones, so neither team will really have much of an advantage going to their bench.
The big question is whether the Bears can start hitting jump shots earlier than four minutes left in the second half. Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe did not get many clean looks on Thursday, and it isn't expected to get better at the Galen Center. If they can't, be prepared for the Trojans to pack the paint if Kamp or Sanders-Frison get going.