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EAST REPORT

Cal in Need of Patience

March 20, 2003|From Associated Press

Eighth-seeded California will be playing an Atlantic Coast Conference team today at Oklahoma City for the first time since 1999, when the Bears played Clemson in the NIT.

But ninth-seeded North Carolina State isn't like most ACC teams: The Wolfpack plays a style similar to Princeton's, spreading the floor and trying for easy baskets off backdoor cuts.

"They also have five guys that can shoot the ball," Cal Coach Ben Braun said of today's first-round East Regional opponent. "I don't care what offense you run. If you have five guys who can shoot, it makes it hard to defend."

The Wolfpack is led by sophomore Julius Hodge, who averages 17.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. North Carolina State will be smaller than the Golden Bears, who have yet to lose a game when they have outrebounded the opponent.

"It's not about size, it's about the size of your heart," Hodge said. "If you go out and play, you're going to come out victorious."

In the other first-round game today, top-seeded Oklahoma takes on 16th-seeded South Carolina State. The Sooners are hoping guard Hollis Price will be healthy.

Price strained his left groin and needed help as he hobbled off the court in the closing seconds of Sunday's victory over Missouri. But he wouldn't dream of being out of the lineup.

"I'm feeling better," Price said. "After the game Sunday I was a little shook up, but [trainer] Alex Brown has done a great job with me so far."

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