Cal Faces Task of Knocking Off Beavers Without Gates





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When the Cal men's basketball team takes the court tonight against Oregon State, it will be missing its sheriff.

Senior Dennis Gates will be out the next two weeks after spraining his wrist during Monday's practice. Doctors have determined Gates partially tore ligaments after a fall.

The Bears (15-5, 6-4 in the Pac-10) will miss Gates' defensive intensity during this week's games against the Beavers and Oregon.

"Both teams have guys that can knock down shots," Cal coach Ben Braun said. "Anytime you've got guys that can knock down shots, they are always a threat to me."

OSU's shooting threat comes from forward Philip Ricci. The 6-foot-7 junior is averaging 16.1 points per game this season and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week on Jan. 28.

In the meeting between the Bears and Beavers Jan. 12, Ricci was held to just nine points on 1-for-6 shooting.

"Our post guys did a good job keeping him in front and challenging shots," Braun said. "He commands a lot of attention. He's a strong player, he's difficult to defend on the block and he can step out and knock down the medium-range jumper."

In addition to keeping an eye on Ricci, the Bears must improve on the glass. Against Arizona State last Saturday, Cal was outrebounded 42-27.

"We do get pushed under the basket sometimes, so we have to correct that," Braun said. "We make the mistake of going after the ball and ball watching. We've got to go out and make contact with people."

Defense continues to be the Bears' strong point-leading the Pac-10 in scoring defense (65.4 ppg). The Beavers are second to the Bears in the category, allowing only 67.5 ppg.

"Cal is very good defensively," OSU coach Ritchie McKay said. "They're a very aggressive team. We've got to be prepared to make the extra pass and be ready to take the shot if we have it."

A key to the Bears' success will be how well freshman Jamal Sampson responds after a tough week against the Arizona schools. Sampson was saddled with the flu and foul trouble and was unable to make a serious impact in either game.

"Jamal was a little bit under the weather on Saturday, and he is still feeling some of the effects," Braun said. "He was getting a little bit frustrated with the officials, but you've got to play past that."

OSU has dropped seven of its last nine games heading into Haas Pavilion. Last week, the Beavers dropped contests to both No. 25 USC and No. 15 UCLA.

"We played in desperation (against UCLA)," McKay said. "That happens when we got behind and we lost our discipline and continuity. We missed a couple (threes) and got gun-shy."

The Beavers did sweep their last road trip against the Washington schools Jan. 24-26.

A win in tonight's game will definitely help, with Pac-10-leading Oregon looming Saturday.

BUZZER BEATERS

Cal has won 12 of the last 13 meetings against OSU and leads the all-time series 63-53. . . . With a win this weekend at home, the 2002 Bears would become only the seventh team in school history to post more than 13 regular season home wins. Cal currently has a 13-1 record at Haas.

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