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Cal coach speaks highly of UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, left, and Katin Reinhardt react after a Bennett dunk during the Rebels’ game against Hawaii on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Add California coach Mike Montgomery to the ever-growing list people around the country impressed with UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett.

“He’s a man,” Montgomery said Friday. “There’s no question about that. He’s got muscles on top of muscles.”

No. 21 UNLV plays at Cal at 3 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU. It figures to be the toughest game yet for the Rebels (6-1) and the middle of a very difficult stretch for the Bears (6-1). Cal lost by 25 at Wisconsin last Sunday, and about a week after this game, Montgomery’s group welcomes in No. 16 Creighton.

The Bears are better than that 25-point loss indicates, and they’ll try to show that against UNLV. Montgomery knows a key to that is going to be limiting Bennett.

“If you give him an angle to the basket, it’s pretty much going to be a dunk,” Montgomery said.

Bennett averages a team-leading 18.7 points per game on 55 percent shooting, plus he grabs 7.6 rebounds per game. He’s a tough matchup for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is his physicality.

“He’s got a prototypical pro body — long arms, broad shoulders. He’s got size and he can shoot from outside,” Montgomery said. “I think he’s got a great future at the next level as well, but for him to come in and be as comfortable as he is on a top 20 team and be the leader scoring-wise says a lot about who he is.”

Montgomery also discussed another Findlay Prep alum in former Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez. After brief stints in Serbia and Cancun, Gutierrez has caught on in the NBA Developmental League with the Canton Charge.

“He’s an emotional kid and things bother him,” Montgomery said. “When he’s not happy, he generally doesn’t play very well.”

Homesickness got the best of him overseas but for now, things seem to be going well.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. I was very impressed with Gutierrez last season when Cal came to town. To my knowledge, he won the Pac-12 Player of the Year last season.