Bears to Face OSU at Home





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Fresh off its first Southern California road sweep since 1995, the Cal men's basketball team returns home this weekend to take on the Oregon schools in the friendly confines of Haas Pavilion.

Friendly? Hardly.

The Bears have earned a respectable four victories in the Pac-10 so far this season, but just one of those wins has come at home - an 80-46 mauling of Washington State Jan. 27.

Cal has already dropped three close contests to then-No. 5 Arizona, Arizona State and lowly Washington at Haas this year. Couple that with a sound beating by No. 2 Stanford Jan. 22, and there's no telling how the Bears will fare in their homecoming against Oregon State tonight at 7:30 p.m.

"Sometimes, it's about who you play," Cal coach Ben Braun said of the Bears' dismal 1-4 home record. "We've had a pretty competitive home schedule. I haven't stopped long enough to analyze it, but for us, it's about consistency. That's what we're trying to develop."

Cal (13-8, 4-5 in the Pac-10) gets a solid opportunity to further its development and extend its two-game winning streak tonight when it takes on the bottom-dwelling Beavers (10-10, 2-7).

OSU is currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak that began on Jan. 27, when it was downed by UCLA at home, 85-74.

Unlike last season, when the squad played virtually injury-free, the injury bug this year has effected the Beavers' performance drastically.

Starting forward Brian Jackson missed five games early in the season with a knee injury, while fellow starter Jason Heide sat out four games - including the Beavers' loss to Cal in mid-January - with a broken thumb and sprained ankle.

Both are healthy now and will provide OSU with some much-needed physical play.

"Heide's available now, and he's a presence," Braun said of the center, who is averaging 10.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. "He allows Jackson to go bigger against other small forwards - it gives them some options."

The Bears will counter the duo with freshman Nick Vander Laan and junior Sean Lampley. Vander Laan has led Cal in rebounding in nine of the Bears' last 10 contests, while Lampley is still Cal's No. 1 scorer at 16.2 ppg.

Sophomore forward Ryan Forehan-Kelly is also likely to be a factor. He had a career-high 17 points in the Bears' last outing against OSU, including four three-point baskets, although part of his success came from the Beavers' lack of scouting information on him.

"I know they'll be aware of him," Braun said of the walk-on Forehan-Kelly. "He's shown up on a lot of scouting reports lately. He's been a good, consistent player for us."

After its matchup with OSU, Cal enters its real battle royal Saturday night against No. 24 Oregon. The Ducks (16-4, 7-2) are currently in sole possession of third place in the league after knocking off Arizona State, 77-71, on the road last Saturday.

A victory over the ranked Ducks would go a long way toward securing a NCAA tournament berth.

Senior forward A.D. Smith is pacing Oregon with 15.7 ppg and 6.0 rpg. He also leads the Ducks in steals (32) and free-throw percentage (.866). Senior guard Alex Scales is right behind him with 15.5 ppg and 4.1 rpg.

But the most important player on the Ducks' senior-laden squad may be Darius Wright, who has logged 37 minutes in each of Oregon's last eight games.

With Wright distributing the ball, the Ducks are averaging a steady 16.6 apg and are outscoring opponents by an average of five points per game.

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