Date: Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004
Time: 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Haas Pavilion (11,877), Berkeley, Calif.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN (Steve Physioc/Marques Johnson)
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Cal at a glance
Coach: Ben Braun
Location: Berkeley, CA
Starters Returning: 3
2002-03 Record: 22-9 (13-5)
Post Season: NCAA second round
Last Meeting: Arizona won 95-75 last month in Tucson. The Wildcats lead the series 42-23.
Good Wins: UCLA
Bad Loses: Cal Poly
Scoring: Leon Powe 15.6 ppg
Rebounding: Powe 9.8 rpg
Assists: Ayinde Ubaka 3.6 apg
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona struggled against Washington State, but prevailed . Cal beat Oregon State.
OVERVIEW: This is what we wrote in the first scouting report: "Cal has yet to find consistency all season and is trying to adjust to an infusion of young talent. Cal was supposed to challenge Arizona and Stanford for the Pac-10 crown but now they are struggling to get over .500." Sadly for Cal fans nothing has changed for the Bears since their January meeting.
The Bears have been a little better, winning four of six, but they just can't seem to get a big win over a better team.
Leon Powe missed the first Arizona game, but he should be good to go tonight. He leads the team in scoring and rebounds and is one of the three best post players in the league.
"He's been a very consistent double-double guy and changes things a lot because he is such a threat on the inside," Lute Olson said. "It a challenge not only to stop him, but to keep him off the boards."
Amit Tamir hasn't had the season many thought he would but he's still a very tough player to match-up with. He plays both inside and out, and when he's on he can be deadly from the outside.
"He's (Tamir) a great shooter," Olson said. "You'd better not give him any space. He's a really good player, and he plays within himself. I really like the way he plays. He's a good passer as well.
The Bears seem to go as Tamir does and it will be vital for Braun to figure out how to get the Israeli big man involved early.
"It seems like when he shoots well they do well.," Olson said. When he doesn't, then they struggle. Like Arizona, Cal runs with a true freshman point guard. Ayinde Ubaka has been solid, but he hasn't been in the class of Mustafa Shakur. Ubaka averages just 7.4 ppg and 3.6 apg, he's also not the defender that Shakur is.
"(Ayinde) Ubaka has continued to play better and better, especially well at home which is not unusual for a freshman," Olson said.
A big question is the Bears must answer is whether or not they can handle the athleticism of Arizona. They have yet to face an opponent that is as quick or as talented as the Wildcats and they could be in for a big surprise.
The Bears got great play from Marquis Kately and Dominic McGuire in Tucson and they want to make sure that the two can't get open looks from the outside. If they or Richard Midgely get hot early that will make the Cats' efforts to clog up the middle much tougher. Because of their shooting ability, the Cats probably won't use the 1-3-1 zone.
"I don't think we'll play that much zone," said Rodney Tention. "We'll probably play mostly man because we match up with them pretty well."
As a team, Cal shoots 43.7 percent from the floor (429-of-981) and averages 65.3 points per game, 2.0 points per game more than the opposition. The Golden Bears struggle from the line, connecting on just 62.1 percent (243-of-391) of its FT attempts. Individually, three Cal players average in double figures.
BEST PLAYER:Powe is averaging close to a double-double as a true freshman and is the type of physical player that gives the Cats trouble. The Cats will focus their efforts on denying him the ball down low, but don't expect a 1-3-1 like they used against
CAL'S STRENGTHS: Cal's best players are inside players. Tamir's versatility is a key. If he or any perimeter players get hot early, then the Cats will have difficulty sagging down on Powe.
CAL'S WEAKNESSES: The Bears have not been consistent all year. Their young players need to step up and play their best game of the year.
KEY MATCH-UP: Mustafa Shakur vs. Ayinde Ubaka. Ubaka was a non-factor against Arizona in Tucson, but has been a much better player at home. Shakur needs to be a steadying influence for a shaken Wildcat club.
OUTLOOK: What Arizona team will show up? The one that played Cal in Tucson or the one that went to Washington last week? If the Cats come out and click on all cylinders then they will win. If they struggle and play without aggressiveness, Cal is a good enough team that they could get the win.