Hoops Preview - California

After dropping a heartbreaking 58-56 game to Stanford, the No. 17 Washington Huskies (12-4, 4-1) have had to wait three days before getting a shot at a coveted road split. The team that stands in their way? The California Golden Bears (9-7, 2-2), who are coming off a tight game of their own - an overtime win over Washington State.

The Sunday night game will be played at 7 p.m. PST at Haas Pavilion, with television coverage via Fox Sports Northwest and radio via Washington's IMG College Network, which includes KJR-950AM in Seattle.

Washington will be looking to bounce back from their tough two-point loss to the Cardinal Thursday, a loss that put a number of streaks to bed: A six-game winning streak; an 11-game win streak versus Pac-10 opponents, and a program record six-game win on the road against league foes.

California, who will be looking to create a winning streak of their own, has one of the more well-rounded starting five in the Pac-10, with each player bringing a little something different to the court. Their leading scorer is Harper Kamp, who does a little bit of everything for Mike Montgomery's Bears. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound junior forward from Mesa, Ariz. won't wow you with any one particular skill; his all-around game speaks for itself. He's scoring at a 13.4 points per game clip, and has scored in double-digits in eight out of his last 10 games. He scored 18 in the OT win over WSU. Because of his size, he is a solid contributor on the boards, and is a clutch shooter from the free throw line.

The Bears' defensive specialist is junior guard Jorge Gutierrez, from Chihuahua, Mexico. Just like Washington fans look to Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton as the Huskies' firemen, Gutierrez has been doing the same since coming on the Pac-10 scene three years ago. As a sophomore, he was part of the Pac-10 All-Defensive unit while only averaging half a game played. He has stepped up his offensive game, currently averaging 12.7 point per contest, and is the only Golden Bear with more than 20 steals on the season (23), compared to three for the Huskies (Holiday, Overton and Isaiah Thomas).

If California needs a burst of offensive energy, lately their go-to guy has been true frosh sharpshooter Allen Crabbe. With the departure of fellow frosh Gary Franklin to Baylor, Crabbe is the Bear most likely to hoist up three-point shots on a regular basis, and he's making 36 percent of them right now (29-81). Against Washington State, he blitzed the Cougars for a career-high 30 points, the most any Cal player has scored so far this season. Crabbe hit for 17 points in three of his last four games before his Thursday night outburst, so clearly the 6-foot-4 guard from Los Angeles has already found his shooting legs. He has a tie to Washington, as he was former teammates with Tyreese Breshers at Price High School.

Down low, Cal relies on big Mark Sanders-Frison to do his thing, which is grabbing rebounds, cleaning up in the paint, and making life miserable for the other team's post players. If you are playing against the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Sanders-Frison - who prepped at Jefferson High in Portland, the same high school as UW's Terrence Ross and Antoine Hosley - expect to get beat up physically and mentally. He's fouled out seven times so far this year, so he's susceptible to foul difficulty, but he can also draw contact just as easily. Lately, he's been a human double-double, scoring at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in four of Cal's last six games.

Brandon Smith was inserted as California's fifth starter shortly after Christmas, and the sophomore point guard from San Ramon, Calif. has been a fixture ever since. He's the distributor for coach Montgomery, with a current assist-to-turnover ratio of 54-38. His 1.42 A/TO put him at seventh in the Pac-10 for ball-handling efficiency, just one notch above his teammate, Jorge Gutierrez. Don't look for him to be a volume shooter Sunday, as he's 1-8 from deep so far this season.

After their starting five, Montgomery will count on true freshman forward Richard Solomon, sophomore forward Bak Bak, and junior guard Nigel Carter for bench support, although they typically average less than 10 points combined a game. So far during league play, four of the five starters average over 30 minutes a game, and three of them over 34 minutes a game (Crabbe, Kamp and Gutierrez).

Washington will be the fourth ranked opponent California has faced this season. They defeated then No. 20 Temple 57-50 at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. back around Thanksgiving, then lost 77-57 at home to then No. 14 San Diego State, and 78-63 to then No. 3 Kansas, a game that was also played at Haas Pavilion.

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