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Cal Basketball: Bears Open Pac-12 Play vs. Oregon State on Thursday at Haas

Golden Bears visit Utah on Sunday before returning to non-conference action.

Cal tips off Pac-12 play against Oregon State on Thursday night at Haas Pavilion and their prospect begin with the notion of playing good defense.

The Bears (3-4) made some progress in their 65-57 win over Fresno State on Sunday, particularly in the area of keeping the Bulldogs off the free throw line.

The Bears fouled just 13 times and Fresno wound up a modest 6-for-10 shooting free throws.

“Playing defense without our hands. That’s something we need to work on as well — defending without fouling,” senior guard Jordan Shepherd said afterward. “I thought we did a good job of that at tonight.

“We learned from Florida, we learned from Seton Hall how we have to play defense (after) reaching in there, trying to get steals. We have to play solid D, keep our hands up, make sure the refs see it. Look at the result of that.”

At the Fort Myers Tip-Off a week ago, Cal was whistled for 19 fouls in its consolation game against No. 21 Seton Hall, sending the Pirates to the line to shoot 30 free throws. They made 24 of them, allowing them to escape with a 62-59 win despite shooting just 17-for-50 (34 percent) from the field.

Coach Mark Fox, talking in the video below, says the Bears still don’t have an entirely healthy roster, and that may temporarily limit their progress at the offensive end.

“For us, we have to continue to be really sound and stable on the defensive end,” he said. As we grow offensively and get more depth I think can build there.”

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OREGON STATE (1-6) at CAL (3-4)

WHERE: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley

WHEN: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Pac-12 Networks/810-AM

CAL-OREGON STATE HISTORY: Cal leads the all-time series 89-67 and is 47-26 vs. the Beavers in Berkeley. OSU has won the past four meetings, including all three a year ago. Prior to that, Cal had beaten the Beavers seven of eight times.

CAL STORYLINES: The Bears open their Pac-12 schedule after posting a 68-57 win on Sunday over previously unbeaten Fresno State. That followed losses to a pair of Top-25 teams, Florida and Seton Hall, in the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament . . . senior forward Andre Kelly leads the Bears in scoring (16.1) and rebounding (9.1) and has three double-doubles. He is the only player ranked among the top in the Pac-12 in both scoring (fifth) and rebounding (third). Graduate transfer guard Jordan Shepherd, playing through a sprained thumb on his right shooting hand, is the Bears’ No. 2 scorer (13.1) but is shooting just 30 percent from the 3-point arc . . . This game matches the two lowest-scoring teams in the Pac-12: OSU is averaging 66.1 points, Cal 64.7. The Bears have reached 70 points just twice in seven games, and needed double-overtime to get there in one of them . . . Cal has dropped its past three conference openers and is 15-59 in Pac-12 play the past four seasons.

OREGON STATE STORYLINES: The Beavers have struggled to start this season, a year after surprising the basketball world by winning the Pac-12 tournament to earn just their second NCAA tournament bid since 1990, then advancing to the Elite Eight before losing 67-62 to Houston . . . OSU beat Portland State in its Nov. 9 opener but has dropped six straight since then, including games vs. Iowa State, Wake Forest and Penn State . . . Coach Wayne Tinkle, after a home defeat to Samford, said, “We’re very selfish right now. I’ve done a bad job, obviously, of not bringing this group together quick enough.” . . . The Beavers are led by senior forward Warith Alatishe (10.9 points, 7.0 rebounds) and junior guard Jarod Lucas (10.4 points). A transfer from Nicholls State after the 2019-20 season, Alatishe averaged 9.5 points and 8.6 rebounds last year, including 16 points and 9.7 rebounds in three Pac-12 tournament games . . . OSU ranks last in the Pac-12 in 3-point accuracy (29.9%), 11th in free-throw shooting (65.3%) and 10th in field-goal percentage (42.7%).

CAL GAME NOTES: Click here

OREGON STATE GAME NOTES: Click here

Cover photo of Andre Kelly by Matt Pendleton, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo