The Better Bears Come to L.A.

The Cal Bears have gone 6-3 in their last nine Pac-10 games, and have continued to get better as the season has progressed. UCLA will look to revenge the loss at Berkeley that helped to get them into their funk for the season...

The California Bears (11-10, 7-5) come to Pauley Pavilion Thursday to face UCLA (10-11, 6-7).

The Bears have been playing well, and more consistently, in the last month. Since losing to Washington State at home on January 4th, they've gone 6-4, with their losses coming against Stanford (2), Arizona and at Oregon, losses that would be in line with expectation. They have, also, beaten Arizona. They are currently tied for third place in the Pac-10.

Cal is a young team, starting three freshmen and one sophomore. Early on they were prone to some considerably shifts in performance and effort, but they've been play more consistently recently. Their backcourt has stabilized, with freshman point guard Ayinde Ubaka settling in more. The off-guard, sophomore Richard Midgley, has also been playing really well lately, being instrumental in the Bears' sweep of the Arizona schools and being named Pac-10 Player of the Week the weekend before last.

Also stepping up has been stud freshman small forward Marquise Kately, who has been averaging over 15 points in their last five games. He's a very physical and athletic player, but his mid-range shot has been going down, making him a very tough matchup. Cal then brings perhaps the best frontcourt scoring 1-2 punch in the conference, with senior center Amit Tamir and freshman power forward Leon Powe, averaging 27 points a game between the two of them. Tamir and Powe, together, can score anywhere on the court, with Tamir able to stretch defenses by shooting threes and Powe being probably the second best low-post scorer in the conference behind ASU's Ike Diogu. Powe gave UCLA fits when they played them in Berkeley, killing the Bruins on the boards, out-rebounding T.J. Cummings, Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins combined.

Cal probably has more overall talent and a better bench. Both teams are fairly young and prone to mistakes (UCLA has committed 51 turnovers in two games), but Cal has the difference in Powe and Tamir.

With Cal being more talented, playing better, and playing for an outside chance at an NCAA berth, you'd have to give the Bears the edge. But UCLA was in the game in their first matchup in Berkeley, and had a good chance to win. Playing at home, with perhaps Brian Morrison getting more back in the swing of things, we're going with the Bruins in the re-match.

UCLA 69
Cal 64


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