Breakdown: Arizona vs. California

Arizona will start its final homestand of the season against California on Wednesday. Read on for a complete positional breakdown, score prediction, and more.



California at Arizona
Feb. 26 at 7 pm
TV: ESPN
McKale Center

ARIZONA

CALIFORNIA
Overall Record 25-2 (.926) 18-9 (.667)
Location Record 16-0 (1.000) at home 5-4 (.556) on the road
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank) 73.4 (108) 57.9 (5) 74.7 (81) 69.3 (150)
Rebound Margin/G: RM(Rank) 8.9 (5) 3 (95)
Steals/G:
S(Rank)
5.8 (214) 5.7 (230)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
15.1 (42) 15.6 (25)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank) 47 (54) 46 (88)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank) 35.3 (129) 35.3 (129)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank) 37.9 (5) 41.5 (84)
Ranking: Coaches' Poll #3 N/A
Ranking:
AP Poll
#3 N/A

RPI

2 (.6790) 51 (.5813)
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Even
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Justin Cobbs (6-4, 190, Sr.)

Cobbs played well in the first outing, finishing with 19 points and 7 assists to McConnell's 13 points and zero assists. We feel confident in saying McConnell is going to finish with more assists this time around, as the team struggled to quickly adjust to life without Brandon Ashley. We don't like Cobbs as much as others, but he deserves credit for the numbers he is putting up. He sometimes bogs the offense down with his individual play and that is something to keep an eye on throughout the game. With the belief that McConnell is going to have more assists and is coming off a fantastic week, we're going to make this one even, which Arizona should be fine with.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Even
SG: Gabe York (6-3, 180, So.) vs. Ricky Kreklow (6-6, 210, Jr.)

Kreklow came back from injury and was inserted right back into the starting lineup. We figure York is going to guard him because while Kreklow is dangerous, Wallace really makes this offense go and it makes sense to put Johnson on him. Kreklow is a three-point shooter, as 52 of his 73 shot attempts have come from behind the arc. If he gets that going, he is very dangerous. If not, he has a tendency to disappear a bit. That sounds similar to York, although his ten rebounds against Colorado changed that perception a bit. We really don't see one outplaying the other too much and if they do, that team is going to get an overall advantage.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SF: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Tyrone Wallace (6-5, 190, So.)

It appears that Johnson is out of his slump, though we somewhat want to wait another game before feeling confident in saying that. Still, his shot looked better this past week and that makes Arizona a ton better. Wallace is a solid player in his own right, but his shooting has generally been off this season. He does a little bit of everything and is going to find different ways to contribute, but if Wallace's shot is falling, he becomes much more dangerous. In the first meeting, Johnson shot 1-14, turned the ball over five times, and was awful. That won't happen again.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Even
PF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. David Kravish (6-9, 221, Jr.)

Sean Miller spoke highly of Kravish, calling him one of the best players in the conference. Kravish likes to be around the basket, but can step out and shoot and he is also a solid defender. Gordon struggled against Cal in the first meeting, but actually got good looks and still had 13 rebounds and six assists. Kravish will make it tough on him, but Gordon is the better overall player. As long as he gets a few buckets early and doesn't force things while playing his normal defense, Gordon will be just fine.

Center

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Richard Solomon (6-10, 235, Sr.)

In the first meeting, Solomon hit shots that he normally never does. He was hitting fade away jumpers that Arizona had absolutely no answer for and nobody really would. He finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and two blocks and basically controlled the game at numerous points. On the other hand, Tarczewski had his way offensively as well and the only answer the Golden Bears had was to put him at the line, where he went 12-12 to finish with 18 points. Tarczewski is the better player and we don't doubt that, but the big man needs to make sure that Solomon does not get in a groove and our guess is that has been a focus in practice this week.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: Even
Bench: This has changed quite a bit since the first meeting. Arizona brings Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the bench, as he still gets 30 minutes per game. It also plays Elliott Pitts and Jordin Mayes and you have to assume Matt Korcheck will get a few against Cal's size. With Kreklow back for the Golden Bears, Jordan Matthews is moved to the bench with Jabari Bird and Kameron Rooks. Hollis-Jefferson is easily the best player coming off the bench, though Bird can hit a few shots. Rooks is not going to scare anybody and Matthews is a player Arizona should have little problem containing, as shown in the first meeting.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Even
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Mike Montgomery

When you look at Cal on paper, you probably struggle to come up with reasons why it should have nine losses. Still, Montgomery is a good coach and deserves credit for what he has accomplished in his career. He gets credit for what Cal did to Arizona in the first meeting, but that credit is easier to earn when Brandon Ashley goes down with an injury one minute into the game. In reality, we don't think this one comes down to coaching.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
68 60
Prediction: Miller may say this is a normal game, but we doubt it. This team has been looking forward to playing Cal not just because it lost, but how it happened. Despite losing Brandon Ashley in the first minute or so, shooting 32 percent, and just playing poorly, it took a buzzer beater for the Golden Bears to win. The crowd is going to be into it, the team is looking forward to the game, and part of me thinks this has the feeling of a blowout. Personally I think Cal is a very capable team, but it is likely going to have a tough time in this one. Also, I always believe it is difficult to match energy two games in a row and we all know what happened in the second half of the Colorado game. This one starts out close, but Arizona pulls away in the second half with a big run.


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