Jan 9, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears forward Robert Thurman (34) and Washington Huskies center Aziz N

Cal Looks to Bounce Back Against Washington State: Game Preview


The Basics

Cal (9-6, 1-2 Pac-12) looks to rebound against Washington State  Saturday at Haas Pavilion after a deflating loss against Wazzu’s.  The Cougars (9-6, 0-2) are coming off a loss to Stanford, and are looking for their first inter-conference victory.

As of late, the Bears have disappointed, falling short of expectations.  Now that they have appear to have hit their stride, the loss to UCLA is acceptable.  The Bruins are one of the favorites to win the conference. But a double-digit loss to Washington, one in which the Bears looked unable to defend, is completely unacceptable.  A win on Saturday is crucial if Cal aims to make the tournament (because winning the conference is looking like a pipe dream).

To further complicate matters, the tournament committee will have their eyes on a crucial stretch when they went 0-3 against Wisconsin, UNLV and Creighton.  In a chance to boost their résumé, the Golden Bears completely blew the rare opportunity.  Plus, with Oregon’s recent win over Arizona, along with Arizona State’s spotless conference record (and 14-2 overall), it’s not going to get any easier in the Pac-12.

Can the Bears handle . . .

Washingt0n State forward Brock Motum?  The senior is averaging 20 points per game and is the clear leader of the Cougars.  David Kravish and Richard Solomon will have their work cut out for them guarding him in the post.  If they manage to hold him under his season average, Cal has a great chance to win.  The Cougars only have one more scorer averaging in double figures, DaVonte Lacy, and he has been averaging only 6.5 PPG in his last two games.

Watch Out for . . .

Allen Crabbe to bounce back.  I’m always mentioning Allen Crabbe, but that’s because he’s always worth mentioning.  Cal’s offense starts and ends with him, and he, along with Justin Cobbs, is who Cal depends on when everything goes stagnant.  The junior guard had a chance to step into the national spotlight and boost his NBA stock on Wednesday with the game against Washington on ESPN2, but he failed.  In a completely biased prediction, I think he’ll bounce back; hopefully he feels the same way.

The game is at 1:05 PST on the Pac-12 Networks.

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