Published February 26, 2014
Tucson, AZ – Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Arizona Wildcats shoot for their third straight win on Wednesday when they host the California Golden Bears in a Pac-12 Conference clash at the McKale Center.
Since its stunning double-overtime loss to Arizona State on Feb. 14, Arizona has gotten back on track with road wins over Utah (67-63) and Colorado (88-61). The Wildcats are one of a handful of teams that have been near the top of the national rankings all season, with a 25-2 mark overall. They also lead the Pac-12 by two games (12-2), with three games left on the schedule after this one.
California may not have the honor of being in the Top-25, but the Golden Bears are still a team that has a solid resume'. They are 18-9 overall and tied with Stanford for third in the conference standings (9-5). They take on Arizona State in their final road game of the season later this week.
This game gives Arizona a chance to avenge one of its two losses of the campaign, as Cal handed the Wildcats their first setback on Feb. 1 at Haas Pavilion. The Golden Bears have won the last two meetings, but Arizona leads the all-time series, 55-30.
Justin Cobbs played extremely well in leading California to a 77-64 win over USC on Sunday. He netted a game-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go with seven assists. As a team, the Golden Bears sank 48.3 percent from the floor, including a 60 percent showing after halftime, which allowed them to rally from a 30-27 deficit at the break.
Cobbs (15.9 ppg, 6.1 apg) is certainly the leader for California, beyond his team-best marks in scoring and assists. The senior guard is playing a team- high 34.2 mpg and bounced back from a seven-point effort against UCLA with his showing against USC. Tyrone Wallace (11.7 ppg) serves a a solid complement in the backcourt, while David Kravish (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Richard Solomon (11.3 ppg, 10 rpg) eat up space on the interior. Solomon has been particularly solid this season as the only player in the Pac-12 averaging a double-double. Despite their solid core, the Golden Bears are just seventh in the Pac-12 in both scoring (74.7 ppg) and field goal percentage (.460).
Arizona was even more dominant in its most recent outing, rolling to an 88-61 triumph over Colorado. The Wildcats knocked down 60.3 percent of their shots from the floor and had sizable scoring advantages in the paint (38-13) and off turnovers (13-2).
The Wildcats' claim to fame this season has been their intensity on defense. Arizona is permitting only 57.9 ppg on 47.9 percent shooting, ranking among the top-10 in the country in each category. The Wildcats are also a strong team on the glass, ranking atop the Pac-12 and 20th nationally in rebounding (39 rpg). Nick Johnson (16 ppg) is the team's go-to scorer, although Aaron Gordon (11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) has been able to carry the offense at times. The freshman certainly did so against Colorado, finishing with a career-high 23 points. However, he had scored fewer than 10 points in four of the previous six games. Arizona is also still trying to find a consistent replacement for Brandon Ashley (11.5 ppg), with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (8.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Gave York (6.8 ppg) doing their best to fill in for the injured forward.