Berkeley, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The California Golden Bears will have a tough time trying to end a five-game losing streak Saturday as they play host to the seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats in a Pac-12 Conference contest at Haas Pavilion.
California sank to a fifth straight loss Thursday night when the team was torched by Arizona State, 79-44, at home. The Golden Bears are just 8-5 in Berkeley this season, and are 1-5 in Pac-12 play.
Arizona, on the other hand, has won three straight decisions and five of the team's last six overall. The Wildcats outlasted Stanford on Thursday night on the road, 89-82, to pick up their 17th win of the season. Arizona is currently 5-1 against conference opponents.
The Wildcats have a pretty big leg up in the all-time series over California. Arizona leads the Golden Bears, 56-30, though the two teams split the season series in 2013-14. It was California that ended Arizona's perfect season a year ago.
Both Arizona and Stanford were hot shooting the ball on Thursday night in Palo Alto. The Wildcats connected on a healthy 55.6 percent of their shots from the floor as they overcame a 41-39 halftime deficit to defeat the Cardinal. Stanley Johnson netted 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds to pace the Wildcats in the win, while Brandon Ashley chipped in with 17 points. Gabe York scored 13, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 12 and T.J. McConnell posted 10 points with five assists in the team's victory.
Johnson, a freshman, has been stellar in his first season with the Wildcats. The 6-foot-7 forward leads the team in scoring at 14.8 ppg, adding in a team- best 6.8 rpg mark and 32 assists to his resume. Ashley chimes in with 11.5 ppg this season, and Hollis-Jefferson rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers for the Wildcats at 10.9 ppg. McConnell's 111 assists is by far the most on Arizona's roster, and his 5.8 apg ranks third in the Pac-12 Conference. Arizona's scoring offense ranks second in the conference at 75.1 ppg, while a 60.0 ppg allowed mark makes the Wildcats extremely dangerous on the defensive end as well. Arizona is second in the league with a +15.1 scoring margin this season.
Jabari Bird returned to the starting lineup Thursday night for California, although it didn't do the Golden Bears any good. Bird didn't record a single point, and went 0-of-4 from the floor in the team's dismal effort against Arizona State. Jordan Mathews recorded 11 points with five rebounds, and served as the only Cal player in double figures in the contest. David Kravish chipped in with eight points, and Tyrone Wallace added seven points and a team-high seven rebounds in the defeat. The Bears shot just 33.3 percent from the floor, and hit only 2-of-11 from 3-point range against the Sun Devils.
Wallace has shown greatness from time to time this season, but he hasn't been able to carry his team through this very rough patch in the schedule. The guard leads the Golden Bears still in all three major statistical categories, owning a 17.4 ppg mark, with 8.2 rpg and 3.8 apg. Mathews follows Wallace up in scoring, adding in 14.9 ppg, while Kravish checks in at 10.6 ppg with 6.8 boards per outing. California has really faltered on the offensive end of the floor lately, as the team averages just 65.7 ppg this season, which is second to last in the Pac-12. The Bears have been able to get by on a solid defensive effort that limits opponents to 63.8 ppg.