BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- Points scored by junior G Jorge Gutierrez in the final 22.6 seconds of regulation and in overtime of the Bears' 76-72 win over UCLA on Feb. 19.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Wow, that's the best game I've ever seem Jorge play. He played phenomenal. He was so aggressive. He really took us on his back tonight." -- Cal sophomore PG Brandon Smith, after teammate Jorge Gutierrez scored a career-high 34 points against UCLA on Feb. 19.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
KEY MATCHUPS: Cal's offense clicked nicely in its 85-77 win over the Ducks in Berkeley last month, but the Bears hadn't functioned on all cylinders the past few games following freshman Allen Crabbe's concussion. The Bears must cope with Oregon's pressing defense and depth, but they will try to take advantage of their interior strength in their first look at the new Matthew Knight Arena.
KEY MATCHUPS: The Bears lost by double digits in their two previous visits to Gill Coliseum, but they easily solved Oregon State's 1-3-1 zone defense in Berkeley last month. Harper Kamp scored 18 points and Cal logged its most decisive win of the conference season through Feb. 20, winning 85-57.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman SG Jeff Powers got his second consecutive start in the USC game on Feb. 17 because freshman Allen Crabbe still was not fully recovered from his concussion. After totaling 27 points in two games at Washington the previous weekend, Powers had just 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting against the Trojans, including 1-for-6 from 3-point range.
Solomon Traded Dojo for Gymnasium
Long before Richard Solomon was recruited to play basketball for the Golden Bears, the freshman forward was a karate kid.
Now nearly 6-foot-9, Solomon was 6-foot-1 as a 12-year-old when he earned his junior black belt. Basketball, at the time, was just something to do. Karate was serious business.
"There is a discipline to it. It's something to get your mind straight, put your body in good physical condition," said Solomon, who became obsessed with advancing in the sport.
"You ever play a video game where you've got to go to the next level? The next level in karate was each belt," he said.
The hours-long test to earn his junior black belt involved demonstrating knowledge of every skill he had learned -- with multiple reps of all types of kicks, punches, blocks and other techniques -- then several rounds of sparring.
"After they give you your black belt, they hit you in the stomach. And there's like 40 or 50 of these dudes," he said. "If you move, they hit you again. It's kind of a tradition."
Basketball became Solomon's front-burner activity at the end of his sophomore season at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, Calif., when he was promoted to the varsity team.
Solomon eventually transferred to Price High in Los Angeles, where he joined forces with fellow Cal freshman Allen Crabbe.
Averaging 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds off the bench after the Bears' 76-72 overtime win over UCLA on Feb. 20, Solomon is convinced karate provided him the lasting benefits of self-control, confidence and the ability to listen to others, along with keeping him limber and coordinated.
Said his mother, Sheryl Solomon, "I think it helped him to become the person that he is."