- No. 1 Arizona (21-0, 8-0) at Cal (14-7, 5-3) Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, Calif. 8:30 p.m. Pac-12 Arizona 1290-AM
G T.J. McConnell (6-1 junior)
G Nick Johnson (6-3 junior)
F Aaron Gordon (6-9 freshman)
F Brandon Ashley (6-8 sophomore)
C Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 sophomore)
G Justin Cobbs (6-4 senior)
G Jordan Mathews (6-3 freshman)
G Tyrone Wallace (6-5 sophomore)
F David Kravish (6-9 junior)
C Richard Solomon (6-10 senior)
HOW THEY MATCH UP
The series: Arizona leads the all-time series 55-29 but it has locked up at 4-4 over the past five seasons. Cal beat the Wildcats 77-69 in the only meeting last season, though Arizona has won two straight at Haas Pavilion, including a triple-overtime thriller in 2010-11.
California overview: The Bears have lost three straight after winning their first five Pac-12 games. They were without standout freshman wing Jabari Bird during the first three games of their winning streak but have gradually increased his role throughout the last three losses. In the meantime, the Bears have received an average of 11.4 points in Pac-12 games from freshman Jordan Mathews while point guard Justin Cobbs is 16th nationally in assists per game (6.0). Inside, the Bears have a double-double machine in Richard Solomon, along with rebounding and shot-blocking from forward David Kravish.
- California, Richard Solomon:
- More comfortable roaming to the perimeter earlier in his career, Solomon has dedicated himself in the post as a senior. He’s put on strength that has helped him become the nation’s 10th-leading rebounder (10.7 per game).
- Arizona, Brandon Ashley:
- The Bay Area native had 12 points and nine rebounds against the Bears at McKale Center last year but will be facing an improved Cal frontcourt this time before friends and family.
HE SAID IT:
“Solomon has really developed physically. Justin Cobbs is terrific; he’s got to be as good a guard as there is in the league, and with Kravish and Solomon, those three really lead their team. When they added Bird (back from injury), he’s an exceptional scorer. He can shoot threes, he can drive it, he’s realty athletic. They have a lot of weapons.”
— UA associate head coach Joe Pasternack, who scouted the Bears.
- The Arizona-Cal game is the marquee event of Pac-12 Networks’ five-game menu today, and a blowout presentation with double the usual cameras is planned.
Jonathan Leess, the Pac-12 Networks’ vice president of production planning and operations, said there will be 12 total cameras in Haas Pavilion, counting a “slam cam” affixed to the top of each backboard, an “X-MO” slow-motion camera and a roaming wireless camera that can go in the stands, locker room or arena.
“This is huge for us having the No. 1 team on the Pac-12 Networks exclusively and we’re really looking forward to it,” Leess said. “We’ve really added a lot of technology to the event.”
The Networks also plans to deploy “LiberoVision,” which allows a graphical interface drawn over a screen shot to allow in-depth analysis of a key play. Those will be created at the Pac-12 Networks studio in San Francisco and shot back out to the telecast in Berkeley for use during halftime or a timeout.
“Every effort will be made to get these in as often as possible,” Leess said. “You have to be nimble and really quick to produce with this kind of technology.”
- The fact that Cal has lost three straight games took some luster off today’s showdown, after both teams started off 5-0 in conference play, but that may not mean the Bears are any less capable of winning today. Especially now that Cal has freshman wing Jabari Bird back in full form after an ankle injury limited him last month.
“No question,” it could be tough, UA coach Sean Miller said. “They are one of four or five teams from our conference that will be in this year’s NCAA tournament and our game is going to be a meaningful one for them accomplishing that, for sure.
“Jabari Bird was a key part of what they did. They caught fire and really shot the ball well and played with a lot of confidence without him, but eventually that catches up to you because he’s an important player. As he reenters their rotation and plays more significant minutes I think they’ll rekindle what they had.”
- Besides, two of the games that Cal lost were not a big surprise: A road game at UCLA and a home game when Jahii Carson scored 29 points to lead ASU to an overtime win.
“Playing at UCLA is a different type of game,” Miller said. “UCLA is continuing to get better, so that’s part of it. Arizona State, when they won a year ago, Carson would have a prolific game and that happened again. That was just the difference.”
Not that any of that made the Bears feel better.
“We can’t keep losing games,” guard Cobbs said after the ASU loss, according to the Oakland Tribune. “We’ve got to perform. We’ve got to win.”
- The Bears will hold a “Gold Out” for tonight’s game, with gold T-shirts given away to fans. The 11,877-seat Haas Pavilion is sold out.
2Cal wins in 26 games against No. 1-rated teams, against Cincinnati in 1959-60 and UCLA in 1993-94.
3 Cal coach Mike Montgomery’s place in career Pac-12 wins list. The Bears’ Jan. 18 win put him at 277 victories between stints at Stanford and Cal; he’s behind only Lute Olson (327 at UA) and John Wooden (304 at UCLA).
16Seasons since UA was unbeaten at the halfway point of the conference season, which will be after tonight’s game.
Compiled by Bruce Pascoe