Tue, 26 Jan 2021

Cal seeking consistency against Nicholls State

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2020, 11:55 GMT+10

Nicholls State continues its five-game tour of the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday night when it visits California in a nonconference game.

The Colonels (2-1), a Southland Conference team from Thibodaux, La., made a generally successful stop in Santa Clara last week, earning wins over UC Davis and Idaho State before falling 73-57 to the host Broncos in the event finale on Saturday.

The seven-day stay that sandwiched Thanksgiving will end Tuesday on the second night of a back-to-back at Saint Mary's.

The Colonels rode a turnover-creating defense to the wins over UC Davis and Idaho State, forcing 20 against the Aggies in a 101-93 win and then a whopping 28 in a 70-51 win over the Bengals.

Kevin Johnson was Nicholls State's top defender, amassing 11 steals in the two victories.

He is not related to the Kevin Johnson who was a former Cal and Phoenix Suns standout, and whose jersey is retired by the Golden Bears.

Nicholls State coach Austin Claunch won't be surprised if his school's KJ warrants that kind of consideration after a senior year in which he already has been named to the All-Southland Conference preseason team.

"He has huge ownership of this team and its success," Claunch said. "I'm so happy for him that he got that recognition, but I know he'd trade it for the team's success and to win a championship and ultimately put us on the national stage and the NCAA Tournament."

Nicholls State, which went 21-10 last season, has allowed just 16 successful 3-pointers and 25.8 percent accuracy (16 for 62) from beyond the arc in its three games, and that could pose a problem for Cal in its home opener.

One of the worst 3-point-shooting teams in the nation last season, the Golden Bears (1-1) have started this year only slight better, going 6 for 25 (24 percent) in a 71-63 season-opening loss at Oregon State and then 6 for 20 (30 percent) in an 86-61 romp over Northwest University of Washington.

Graduate transfers Ryan Betley (6 for 12) and Makale Foreman (4 for 13) have combined for 10 of Cal's 12 made 3-pointers.

The Golden Bears had 15 turnovers in the win over Northwest, after which coach Mark Fox warned not to expect overnight improvement given 2020's circumstances.

"When you don't play five-on-five for 8 1/2 months, there's going to be significant rust," he said. "I think there's going to be probably lots of sloppy play until kids get comfortable again."

--Field Level Media

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