Mark Fox hasn't produced a winning record in his three full seasons as Cal's head coach, but his teams never got off to as bad a start as the Golden Bears have this season.
Cal enters its final game of the Emerald Coast Classic with an 0-6 record, including four defeats on its home floor and losses to the likes of Texas State and Southern.
The Golden Bears dropped a 59-48 decision to TCU on Friday night in Niceville, Fla., and they get another shot at a power opponent on Saturday when they oppose Clemson (4-2) in the event's consolation game.
Against the Horned Frogs, Cal couldn't find much offense. The Golden Bears shot 41.0 percent, but they had more turnovers than field goals (19-16). TCU denied Cal's leading scorer, Devin Askew, limiting him to 12 points, more than five below his average entering the contest.
TCU also turned Cal's giveaways into 17 points.
Now, it's less than a 24-hour turnaround for a team that's desperate for a jolt. Cal turns attention to Clemson, which dropped a 74-71 decision to No. 25 Iowa, but most of the Golden Bears' focus might be on themselves.
"Just watch a little film in the morning and come play," Fox said on the postgame radio show. "It's very little, if any, preparation. We're not absorbing the preparation quite like we want to right now anyway, so maybe a quick turnaround won't impact us as much as it would if we were playing a little smarter."
Along with Askew's production, Cal received 12 points and eight rebounds from Lars Thiemann. Sam Alajiki added seven points, but no other Golden Bear scored more than five points.
Clemson, where Fox's son Parker played as a walk-on from 2018-19 to 2021-22, nearly found itself in the championship game against the Horned Frogs. The Tigers trailed 60-46 with less than eight minutes to play before mounting an impressive rally. Brevin Galloway hit a 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining to knot the score.
Iowa survived thanks to Tony Perkins hitting six free throws in the final 20 seconds.
Chase Hunter led the way for Clemson with 21 points, while Hunter Tyson added 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Tigers are continuing to find their identity and welcomed the challenge of an early-season tournament.
"We're a new team that's still finding our way," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said before the Emerald Coast Classic. "We're a work in progress. We've played some good basketball at times. We haven't put together a full 40 minutes yet."
Clemson held Iowa to 38.3 percent shooting but allowed 30 free-throw attempts, with the Hawkeyes hitting 24. The Tigers were 11 of 13 at the line.
--Field Level Media