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November 26, 2013
Orange face Golden Bears in Maui
After beating California in last season's NCAA tournament, unbeaten Syracuse is hoping to spoil the Golden Bears' trip to Hawaii.
The eighth-ranked Orange try to hand California its first loss Tuesday as these schools square off in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.
Leading scorer C.J. Fair had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double as Syracuse (5-0) held off Minnesota 75-67 on Monday in the opening round of the tournament. Trevor Cooney added 15 points while going 5 of 11 from 3-point range as the Orange improved to 9-0 all-time in the Maui Invitational.
"It was a good test," said Fair, averaging 17.6 points. "Going forward we can still keep getting better."
Fair also came up big with a team-high 18 points as fourth-seeded Syracuse got by 12th-seeded California 66-60 in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Orange held the Golden Bears (5-0) to 39.3 percent shooting, including 4 of 21 from beyond the arc.
"Anything other than what we did last year would be a starting point," California coach Mike Montgomery replied when asked what he plans to do against the 2-3 zone. "We're going to have to attack it a little more intelligently.
"We have not played against much zone this year, so, frankly, we didn't prepare as if we were going to play Syracuse. ... That's where Syracuse has an advantage. They don't have to prepare anything. They just play the zone. It's a very good zone and it's obviously proven to be very successful over the years. There are weaknesses. We know where they are. We've just got to exploit those."
The Orange weren't at their best against the Golden Gophers, who trimmed a 14-point deficit to two with just over two minutes left.
"The danger is when you get pressed for 40 minutes, it's difficult to bounce back," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We'll be ready. We'll bounce back."
The Orange had a little bit better luck shooting Monday, hitting 42.9 percent of their shots after being held to 36.1 in their previous two games.
The Golden Bears beat Arkansas 85-77 in the opening round Monday. David Kravish led the way with a career-high 19 points and 15 boards while fellow junior Ricky Kreklow scored a career-high 17 off the bench.
Justin Cobbs and Jabari Bird added 15 apiece for California, which outrebounded the Razorbacks 48-32 and held them to 37.5 percent shooting.
"I'm obviously pleased," said Montgomery, whose team overcame a season-high 18 turnovers. "Coming into this thing you look at the field and your first thought process is, gosh, can we win one? Now we've got that one, we feel pretty good."
Senior Richard Solomon, who had 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out Monday, posted a career-high 22 points and 14 boards against Syracuse last season. He ranks among the Pac-12 leaders with 11.4 rebounds per game.
The Golden Bears have dropped 13 of their last 15 against Top 25 teams on neutral courts dating to 2002. They are 0-2 all-time against the Orange.