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St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett, right, gives his opinion to referee Melvin Landry late in the second half of a college basketball game against San Diego Monday Jan. 28, 2008 in San Diego. St. Mary's was defeated 63-55. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
The search for a new Cal basketball coach seems to be narrowing, with Mark Fox of Nevada and Randy Bennett of St. Mary's College possibly in a two-man race nearing its finish.

Both met with Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour at a peninsula hotel Monday night, and no other known candidates have emerged.

The field perhaps shrunk by one on Tuesday with reports that San Diego coach and Oregon native Bill Grier is close to accepting the position at Oregon State, which for weeks had pursued Bennett. Grier, the former Gonzaga aide who orchestrated the Toreros' NCAA Tournament upset of Connecticut, is believed to have had some talks with Cal.

Barbour did not return phone calls Tuesday to confirm a timetable or a list of finalists for the job, vacated last Wednesday when Ben Braun was fired after 12 seasons.

Fox, 39, who has directed Nevada to a record of 102-30 in four seasons with three trips to the NCAA Tournament, was not available for comment but did release a statement.

"The last couple of years I've been fortunate enough to have different universities contact me about potential coaching positions," he said. "I owe it to my family and myself to consider those opportunities, but the University of Nevada is a special place and I can't say enough about our program, players and fans."

Nevada athletic director Cary Groth told the Reno Gazette-Journal that Fox was free to visit with Cal officials.

Fox signed a contract extension after the 2006-07 season that runs through 2013-14 and pays him $400,000 per year plus $100,000 in extra compensation, and provides him a yearly $25,000 cost-of-living increase and performance bonuses. He must pay a $250,000 buyout if he leaves before July 2011.

Fox's wife, Cindy, is an associate athletic director at Nevada, but Cal likely could pay Fox a salary in excess of what both husband and wife earn in Reno.

Bennett, 45, pulled out of the Oregon State picture early Tuesday but could not be reached for comment on the Cal job. He has become St. Mary's winningest coach in just seven seasons, and this year took the Gaels to their second NCAA Tournament in four years.

Bennett is signed to a contract through 2012-13 that pays him an estimated $300,000 per year.

It's unclear whether former Stanford and Warriors coach Mike Montgomery is in any way involved. Indiana's imminent hiring of Tom Crean eliminates that as an option for Montgomery, but he reportedly is being targeted by Loyola Marymount, where his son John played.

Denver Nuggets assistant Mike Dunlap, also mentioned recently in connection with the Cal job, said Tuesday he had not been contacted to set up an interview.

"I would anticipate at this stage I may get a call to interview," he said. "As far as that part goes, I think they're doing background with people I've worked for."

Another source Tuesday suggested that UNLV coach Lon Kruger was part of Cal's short list of candidates. Kruger denied the rumor.

"There's no truth to that," he said. "There's not anything at all going on there with me."

Arizona assistant coach Kevin O'Neill, thought to be interested in the Cal job, became a bit more available Tuesday when Wildcats head coach Lute Olson said O'Neill will not be back on the staff next season.

Contact Jeff Faraudo at jeffscribe@aol.com.