Cal begins a week of action in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., with a semifinal clash against unbeaten UTEP on Monday night in the Surf Division of the SoCal Challenge.
The city known for the yearly bird migration of swallows is hosting tournament games on Monday and Wednesday, with the Golden Bears sticking around for a Saturday matchup against San Diego State.
Cal (2-2) is looking to bounce back from a 63-60 home loss to Montana State on Thursday. Jalen Cone had two chances at a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds and came up empty on both occasions.
The Golden Bears trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half before staging the comeback that fell short.
“It was unacceptable,” Cone said of the loss. “We did not come into the arena ready to play (Thursday night). It was just horrible basketball on our end.”
Jaylon Tyson scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half for Cal. Tyson has team-best averages of 20.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games since winning an eligibility battle with the NCAA.
Tyson was initially ruled ineligible in late October before winning his appeal. He transferred from Texas Tech after last season not long after being on the receiving end of what the school termed an “inappropriate, unacceptable and racially insensitive comment” by fired coach Mark Adams. Tyson committed to Cal in May.
Cone is averaging 15.8 points and has made a team-leading 13 3-pointers. Fardaws Aimaq is averaging 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds.
UTEP (4-0) is looking to win its first five games for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
The Miners defeated Austin Peay 71-63 on Friday in El Paso, Texas. Tae Hardy scored a season-high 25 points and leads UTEP in scoring (17.3 points per game), assists (6.8 per game) and 3-point baskets (10).
Miners coach Joe Golding liked seeing his team limit the Governors to 40 percent shooting, including a 6-of-20 (30 percent) mark from 3-point range.
“I thought the defense stepped up,” Golding said afterward. “We spend so much time and pride ourselves on the defensive side of the ball. We held them to 63 points, so we gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The Miners have racked up 57 steals while forcing 82 turnovers in four games.
UTEP and Cal will be meeting for the first time.
The winner of Monday’s game will face either Bradley or Tulane in Wednesday’s championship game. The losers will meet in the consolation game.
–Field Level Media