Hoops Preview - California

With the possibility of losing four-straight Pac-10 games for the first time since the 2007-2008 season, the Washington Huskies are going through a tough patch. However, the Huskies will have a chance to right the ship when the California Golden Bears come into town Thursday night at 6 p.m. PST. The game will aired live locally on Fox Sports Northwest TV and 950 KJR-AM.

California (6-5, 13-10), who lost to the Huskies (7-4, 15-7) on Jan. 16 by a score of 92-71, have had an up-and-down season. However, prior to losing their last game in triple-overtime to Arizona, the Golden Bears had rattled off four wins in a row.

A team gutted by attrition, an unlikely contributor is now leading California. Harper Kamp, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, is averaging 15.1 points on 55 percent shooting from the field. The Mesa, Ariz. native is also averaging 5.7 rebounds a game.

A 6-foot-3 junior guard from Chihuahua, Mexico, Jorge Gutierrez has been a defensive specialist since he arrived at Berkeley by way of Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. So far this season, he is averaging 1.5 steals and 3.6 rebounds per contest. On the offensive end, Gutierrez is putting up 13.2 points per game on 39 percent shooting from the field and 4.5 assists. His offensive output picked up significantly over the last four games, where he is averaging 19 points and 6.5 assists per game.

Following the two seasoned Golden Bears in scoring is Berkeley's newest star, Allen Crabbe - the player most likely to follow in the footsteps of Cal's last shooting guard sensation, Patrick Christopher. A 6-foot-4 freshman from Los Angeles, Crabbe is averaging 12.4 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the floor, 81 percent from the free-throw line and 38 percent from three. Beyond scoring, he is pulling in 5.7 rebounds per game. In Pac-10 play, the only game Crabbe hasn't scored in double-digits was against Stanford on Jan. 2. He has averaged 16.6 points in conference play, which puts him seventh in the league, and the top freshman by 6.4 points, and he is also averaging the most minutes played of any player in the Pac-10 right now at over 38 minutes a game.

Down in the low post, Markhuri Sanders-Frison tends to leave his mark on games. The 6-foot-7, 265 pound senior center from Portland, Ore. is averaging four fouls a game, which has resulted in nine games that he has fouled out in. He ranks first in the nation in every foul category. Beyond the brute force part of his game, Sanders-Frison is averaging an efficient 10.8 points per game on 60 percent shooting from the field and 7.6 rebounds. His field goal percentage ranks him No. 2 in the conference and No. 37 nationally.

With the departure of freshman Gary Franklin, the Golden Bears' search for a point guard didn't take long with the emergence of Brandon Smith. The 5-foot-11 sophomore is averaging 5.6 points per game on 38 percent shooting from the field and 3.8 assists. Since taking over starting point guard duties on Jan. 6, he has averaged 7.2 points, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals.

Bench play for the Golden Bears will mainly feature Richard Solomon and Bak Bak, but don't expect much in the way of contribution past the starting four of Kamp, Gutierrez, Crabbe, and Sanders-Frison.

As a team, California doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but they do draw quite a few fouls. The Golden Bears rank No. 15 nationally in free-throw attempts and No. 22 in free throws made. That could prove to be a point of discussion if the game goes down to the wire. Losing by 21 at home, Cal certainly has a point to proven, and ever since the beginning of the Bob Bender era the Golden Bears have shown to be a difficult matchup for UW, owning a 19-16 record against the Huskies since 1994. Lorenzo Romar is 8-9 all-time against Cal since joining UW in 2003, sweeping the season series only once - 2005. They have a chance at a second sweep Thursday.

Following this contest, the Washington Huskies will prepare for their rematch against the Stanford Cardinal (5-6, 12-10), who beat the Huskies in Palo Alto on Jan. 13, 58-56. The rematch will take place on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. PST at Alaska Airlines Arena.


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