McNeese St.-California Preview

A lopsided win gave California some of its confidence back, but

it may have to wait until the weekend to measure itself again.

The 24th-ranked Golden Bears will be favored to improve to 5-0

at home when they take on McNeese State on Monday night.

California (5-1) suffered its first loss Tuesday, 92-53 to

then-No. 21 Missouri in the CBE Classic championship. The Golden

Bears bounced back Saturday with an 80-59 home win over Denver.

“We all were just frustrated and couldn’t believe it happened,”

guard Justin Cobbs said of the blowout loss. “The next day, it felt

like something was wrong, we kind of got embarrassed out

there.”

After building a 16-point halftime lead and cruising past the

overmatched Pioneers, the Golden Bears still were talking about

what happened against the Tigers.

“It just kind of spun out of control on us,” coach Mike

Montgomery said. “It could have affected our confidence. We’re

obviously better at home. This was very necessary for us at this

point.”

The Golden Bears’ average victory margin at home is 21.5

points.

Leading scorer Allen Crabbe bounced back from a six-point effort

against the Tigers with 26 on Saturday. Cal’s other star, Jorge

Gutierrez, has turned in consecutive 11-point efforts.

Montgomery knows he needs his stars to play well for his team to

succeed.

“If Allen doesn’t make shots and if Jorge doesn’t do his thing,

then we’re not going to be as good of a basketball team,”

Montgomery said.

California will be expected to have little trouble in its first

matchup against McNeese State (3-2), but this contest will serve as

a tuneup for Sunday’s trip to face 7-1 San Diego State.

Getting consistent play from Cobbs will be important to how Cal

fares this season. Cobbs is Cal’s third-leading scorer at 11.5

points per game despite coming off the bench, and he made all four

3-pointers en route to scoring a career-high 22 points

Saturday.

“I want to be out there with the team and help us win,” Cobbs

said. “Like I said before the season started, anything I can do to

help the team, I’m down to do. It’s just a process of figuring out

my role and to just keep playing hard.”

McNeese State is considered one of the favorites to win the

Southland Conference’s East Division. The Cowboys ended a run of

four straight losing seasons by going 21-12 in 2010-11 and losing

to Boston College in the NIT.

Patrick Richard was the star of that team, and he’s back for his

senior season. Richard scored 19 points to lead McNeese State to a

68-63 victory at Sacramento State on Saturday to open this

three-game road trip.

The Cowboys rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit thanks to

62.1 percent shooting after the break.

“Patrick wouldn’t let us lose,” coach Dave Simmons told McNeese

State’s official website. “He took the lead and showed us the way.

This was a good identity win for us.”

McNeese State isn’t much of a threat from beyond the arc,

shooting 24.5 percent. Cal is limiting foes to 30.8 percent on

3s.