Utah (19-9) at California (18-11)
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears will play their final two games of the season at home, beginning with a Pac-12 Conference tilt against Utah on Wednesday night.
California certainly hasn't given itself much margin for error as the regular season winds down. The Golden Bears have lost three of their last four games and are now 18-11 overall and in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-12 standings (9-7). They get a shot at one of those teams on Saturday when they face Colorado.
It is rather unfortunate for Utah that it will be playing its last two games of the season on the road. The Utes, who at 19-9 are squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, have gone just 1-7 in away games this season. They are also a modest 8-8 in Pac-12 action and have won five of their last seven games overall. The regular-season finale for them will be at Stanford this Saturday.
Barring a matchup in the Pac-12 Tournament, this is the only meeting between these teams this season. Last year, Cal swept the season series, but Utah had the last laugh, notching a 79-69 win in the conference tournament. The Golden Bears lead the all-time series, 12-9.
Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright each scored 21 points as Utah easily took down Colorado, 75-54, last time out. The Utes sank 59.6 percent of their shots from the floor and outscored the Buffaloes, who netted just 39.6 percent, by a 38-22 margin in the paint.
Draining shots at an accelerated rate has come easily for Utah this season. The Utes are third in the country and at the top of the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.501), which has led to the third-best scoring average in the conference as well (78.3 ppg). Wright (16.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.6 spg) keeps the offense moving, not only as the team's leading scorer, but the top distributor as well. His efforts have been stellar this season, as he is second in the conference in both field goal percentage (.604) and steals. Loveridge (15.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is also a potent scorer, and Brandon Taylor (10.7 ppg) lends a support when called upon.
California was on the wrong side of a 78-60 final against Arizona State when it last hit the floor. The Golden Bears only connected on 41.5 percent of their attempts from the field, compared to a 51.8 percent showing by the Sun Devils, who also drilled 10 3-pointers. By comparison, Cal had only six.
Although California is shooting a respectable percentage from the field (.458), it has been nowhere near the elite teams in the Pac-12. The Golden Bears are also scoring at a slower rate than most, ranking ninth in the league at 73.6 ppg. However, the team is fortunate to have one of the best core groups in the conference, led by Justin Cobbs (15.8 ppg, 5.8 apg). The 6- foot-3 guard leads the team in scoring and assists, ranking second in the league in the latter category. Cobbs managed a team-high 15 points in the recent loss to Arizona State. Rounding out the group of primary contributors are Tyrone Wallace (11.5 ppg), David Kravish (11.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Richard Solomon (10.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg).
Utah certainly has motivation in this contest as it needs wins to improve its postseason resume'. However, the Utes are running into a California team with similar motives.
GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears will play their final two games of the
season at home, beginning with a Pac-12 Conference tilt against Utah on
Wednesday night.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (11,877) -- Berkeley, California.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Utah 18-2, Cal 12-3. Away Record: Utah 1-7,
Cal 5-6. Neutral Record: Utah 0-0, Cal 1-2. Conference Record: Utah 8-8, Cal
9-7. Series Record: California leads, 12-9.Game Date and Time
Wednesday, March 5, 11 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
California 74, Utah 68