Matchup: California Golden Bears (13-10 overall, 6-5 Pac-10) at Washington Huskies (15-7, 7-4)
Tip: Thursday, 6 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle
TV, radio: FSN-NW will broadcast the game locally, with Tom Glasgow and Lenny Wilkens calling the action. Thursday's game can be heard on the radio on KJR 950-AM.
Series: California leads the all time series 77-76, but the Huskies won earlier this season in Berkeley, 92-71.
About the Bears: After getting off to a slow start in conference play, the Bears have turned things around and have been one of the hottest teams in the Pac-10, winning four of their past five games. Cal is coming off a heart-breaking loss to conference leader Arizona in a game that featured three overtime periods before the Wildcats escaped Berkeley with a 107-105 win. Cal's leading scorer, Harper Kamp, finished that game with a career-high 33 points, and he scored 20 points against the Huskies earlier this season. So, cleary, the Huskies' defense must focus on containing him. Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez has been on a tear lately for the Bears, averaging 19 points over the team's past four games. Sophomore guard Brandon Smith has recently taken the reigns as Cal's point guard, and with him at the helm, the Bears have never looked better offensively. Smith ranks in the top five in the conference with his 3.7 assists per game and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7. He had nine points and 11 assists against Arizona.
About the Huskies: The Huskies are coming off a miserable road trip through the Northwest and now find themselves trying to snap a three-game losing streak. Washington couldn't be happier to be back home, where it holds an 11-0 record this season. Isaiah Thomas saw his production take a considerable dipl over the last road trip, and the Huskies need him to get back on track as they make their final push towards qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Thomas played one of his most complete games of the season Berkeley, finishing with 27 points and 13 assists. A repeat performance, or something close to it, would go along way toward curing the Huskies' ailments. In the last meeting, Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 22 points and Justin Holiday finished with 23 points. Playing in a friendly atmosphere and facing their current situation, look for the Huskies to play with a high sense of urgency to try to return to their early season form.
Projected starters for California:
G Jorge Gutierrez 6-3 195 Jr. Chihuahua, Mexico 13.2 ppg, 4.5 apg
G Allen Crabbe 6-4 205 Fr. Los Angeles, Calif. 12.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg
G Brandon Smith 5-11 185 So. San Ramon, Calif. 5.6 ppg, 3.8 apg
F Harper Kamp 6-8 245 Jr. Mesa, Ariz. 15.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison 6-7 265 Sr. Portland, Ore. 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg
Projected starters for Washington:
G Isaiah Thomas 5-9 185 Jr. Tacoma, Wash. 16.5 ppg, 3.8 apg
G Scott Suggs6-6 195 Jr. Washington, Mo. 7.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg
C Aziz N'Diaye 7-0 260 So. Dakar, Senegal 4.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg
F Justin Holiday 6-6 185 Sr. Chatsworth, Calif. 12.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg
F Matthew Bryan-Amaning 6-9 240 Sr. London, England 15.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg
UDubSports.com pick: Washington 95-81