Teams: UC Davis vs. California
Records: Aggies, 4-5; Golden Bears, 4-2
Where: Haas Pavilion – Berkeley, Calif.
When: Today at 7:30 p.m.
Who to watch: Senior Joe Harden passed the 1000-career point mark on Saturday against Seattle.
The guard out of Acampo, Calif. has been a team leader all season, averaging 14 points and seven rebounds.
“From a coaching standpoint, [Harden] is a dream come true,” said coach Gary Stewart. “There are some guys that are skilled and some guys that are hard-hat warriors. He has the hard hat and the toughness and he brings that every day, but he’s also got the skill set.”
Did you know? UC Davis put together its first win streak of the season, earning a 61-54 victory over Sacramento State last Tuesday, followed by an 80-58 win over Seattle on Saturday.
Preview: UC Davis’ strength of schedule will receive a boost Wednesday night when it visits perennial Pac-10 contender California.
To Stewart and the Aggies, Cal represents a high-caliber team that can help them prepare for conference play.
Cal is coming off a successful season, which culminated in a regular season conference championship and an NCAA Tournament first-round win.
The Golden Bears have had to reload, however, as they lost five seniors after the 2009-2010 campaign. They are left with just one senior this year, and their current roster boasts six freshmen.
The Golden Bears will be coming off two consecutive tournament losses. In the first of those defeats, Cal scored just five points in the opening half en route to the 57-44 loss to Notre Dame.
Despite the sluggish start for the Golden Bears, Stewart won’t take them for granted.
“You have to be careful to not read too much into 20 minutes,” Stewart said. “[Cal is] certainly capable of scoring points. There is a danger in trying to compare something that happened days and days ago to what could potentially happen tomorrow.”
The Aggies will hit the road after two back-to-back wins, where they outscored their opponents 141-112.
Additionally, Harden leads UC Davis with 99 points scored this season, a full 32 ahead of Cal’s leading scorer, Jorge Gutierrez.
For a win on the road, the Aggies will need to show strength in all areas on the court but especially when Cal has the ball.
“You’re going to have to be very efficient in all facets of the game,” Stewart said. “You’ve got to control tempo and play to the physical nature of the game. You have to play exceedingly well to give yourself an opportunity to have success. It starts with the defense.”
– Grace Sprague