Final
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Detroit-California Preview

Nov 10, 2009 - 4:59 PM By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN STATS Senior Writer

Detroit (0-0) at California (1-0), 11:00 p.m. EDT

As the preseason favorite in the Pac-10, California found out in its opener what it's like to have that target on its back.

The No. 13 Golden Bears hope to turn in a better performance Wednesday night in the 2K Sports Classic when they host Detroit, which is playing its season opener.

California and No. 14 Washington are the only two Pac-10 teams in the preseason rankings, with the Golden Bears picked to win the conference.

The backcourt of Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher makes California the lone Pac-10 squad with two players on the Wooden Award preseason list. Those two combined to average nearly 33 points last season and they accounted for 31 on Monday in a hard-fought 75-70 home victory over Murray State.

"All of a sudden these guys are two all-conference picks," coach Mike Montgomery said. "People know about them. Like any team does, you're going to go after other teams' best players and do everything you can to take them out and make everyone else beat you."

Theo Robertson scored 14 points and Jamal Boykin added 12 for the Bears, who let the Racers cut an 18-point lead down to six with 2:31 to go before holding on for the win.

"We're still trying to find our rhythm," Boykin said. "That's what you learn early in the season. Right now we're getting a feel for who we are as a team and trying to build our identity."

Last season, the Golden Bears were the best 3-point shooting team in the nation at 42.7 percent, with Robertson and Randle both hitting over 46 percent. Those two players combined for only three 3-point attempts Monday as Murray State forced Cal to go away from its perimeter-oriented attack.

"I thought our shot selection got a little bit questionable," Montgomery said. "They upped their defensive pressure - forced us to the basket and when they did that, we got in kind of tough spots and where we weren't sure what to do so we ended up taking shots we weren't used to taking."

The Golden Bears have one more tuneup against Detroit before they head to New York next week to face Syracuse and either No. 4 North Carolina or No. 16 Ohio State.

Detroit went 7-23 a season ago to finish last in the Horizon League and is picked to finish sixth this season. The Titans return four seniors and two sophomores from last season's squad.

One of those seniors is forward Thomas Kennedy, who averaged 11.6 points in starting 29 of 30 games. The Titans have higher expectations for him in 2009-10.

"I am just really proud of him," coach Ray McCallum said. "He's worked extremely hard and he's playing with a lot of confidence. That's what you like to see in a senior. He's playing like a senior that's really focused and he's going to have a terrific year."

This is the second meeting between the teams after Cal won 32-28 in the 1937-38 season. Detroit is 6-4 all-time against Pac-10 teams.