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December 28, 2010

Bears host Hartford as Monty goes for 600

The Cal basketball team looks to end its nonconference portion of the schedule, as well as its five-game homestand, on a high note when the Bears welcome Hartford to Haas Pavilion on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 7:30 p.m. If Cal is victorious, head coach Mike Montgomery will earn his 600th career NCAA Division 1 win.

The Bears (6-5) fell to No. 3 Kansas on Dec. 22, 78-63, but Cal put up a good fight against the Jayhawks. At one point in the second half, the Bears cut the lead down to three before Kansas went on a 13-2 run to take a permanent stranglehold on the contest. Senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison recorded his third career double-double and the second in as many games. He scored 10 points and tied his career high in rebounds with 12. On the season, Sanders-Frison is shooting 59.1% from the field, which ranks third among the Pac-10 leaders.

Junior forward Harper Kamp currently leads the conference in free-throw shooting at 87.0% (40-for-46). Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez has been
solid from the charity stripe, as well (50-for-65), along with true freshman guard Allen Crabbe (15-for-18).

The Bears' defense is holding opposing offenses to shoot just 40.1% from the field. On Dec. 18, Cal Poly shot 29.4% against the Bears and 14.3% from three-point distance. Cal also boasts 64 steals on the campaign, led by Gutierrez's 15. Crabbe is second on that list with 11 after notching two against Kansas. Crabbe's eight blocks paces his team,
as well.

The Bears have also been successful in the rebounding department. In Cal's loss to then-No. 14 San Diego State on Dec. 8, the Bears outrebounded the Aztecs by 10 (38-28). Last Wednesday the Jayhawks, Cal was out-rebounded by only one (40-39). Sanders-Frison currently leads the team on the boards at 8.2 rpg.

Boasting a 4-3 record in Haas Pavilion thus far this year, Cal has won 42 of its last 47 nonconference home games. The Bears went 15-1 for the entire 2009-10 season at Haas Pavilion, with the lone defeat coming in overtime against UCLA. In 2008-09, the Cal was 9-0 in Berkeley against teams outside the Pac-10. In his first three years as the Bears' head coach, Montgomery currently has a record of 35-6 on the home court.

With the win over UC Davis on Dec. 1, Montgomery reached 50 wins at Cal in 74 games - faster than any coach at Cal since Nibs Price won 50 of his first 60 games from 1924-25 through the start of the 1928-29 season. He is also one win away from his 600th career collegiate head coaching victory. He will become the seventh active head coach to record 600 Division I victories. If the Bears deal Hartford a loss, there will be a brief ceremony immediately following the game to honor the Cal skipper.


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