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Cal Looks to Stay Alive in Conference Race Against Stanford: Game Preview


Have you seen this yet?

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

If you are at work, or school, or any other place in which you can’t open a link, it’s a video that was produced by Cal Athletics to hype up tonight’s game against Stanford entitled “One More Game.”  The players are in it, some of them saying the aforementioned phrase, while some are encouraging you to go to the game at Haas Pavilion.  Essentially, it’s a marketing video which is trying to push for a sellout.  Though the video manages to hit a few nerves, especially for any Cal fan, it is hardly needed.  Given the way the Golden Bears have been playing, I don’t think it’ll be too hard to reach capacity.  Add in that the game is against Stanford and nationally-televised, and the energy will be palpable.

The last time these two played, the Cardinal bested Cal 69-59 in Palo Alto in a forgettable game.  Allen Crabbe put in a ho-hum performance (relative to his ceiling), Justin Cobbs got his, and David Kravish posted a solid stat line for the game.  Other than these three, though, Cal was generally lackluster.  That’s not to say that Stanford was particularly outstanding; Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell led the charge, but the Cardinal had an exceptional contribution from their big John Gage, who scored 14 points off the bench (he averages under six for the season).

Now, the Bay Area universities meet just a little over a month later, and even the slightest college basketball fan could tell you this will be a different game.  What is different?  Well, Stanford has been pretty mediocre throughout the season, and they’ve dropped four of their last six.  There actually isn’t much different on their end.  However, Cal, I think, is doing pretty well.  OH WAIT, THEY’VE WON THEIR LAST SEVEN GAMES.  At the right time, the Bears have hit their stride, and Mike Montgomery has the them running much more smoothly than before.  A few kinks here and there, and they could certainly afford to be more careful with the ball, but they are playing tremendous basketball right now.  Especially on defense (they’ve held their last four opponents under 60).

The key to this game will absolutely be Tyrone Wallace.  He has been playing fantastically as of late, and will certainly be looking to compensate considering his “meh” outing the last time against the Cardinal.  His defensive efforts against Randle will be decisive in determining the outcome of this game.  Keep an eye on the paint as well, and watch out for how Kravish and Richard Solomon play against Dwight Powell.

A win for Stanford would help keep Johnny Dawkins’ seat lukewarm, but a loss would certainly bring a few more Stanford alumni out of the woodwork questioning his abilities.  Additionally, they are seemingly on the way to the NIT.  On the other side of the Bay, no one is questioning Coach Montgomery’s abilities, and a win for Cal would keep them alive for the regular-season conference championship.  If Oregon and UCLA each lose one more game (still likely), the Bears would capture a share, but they also hold the tiebreaker, so it would include a #1 seed in Las Vegas.  Yeah, this will definitely be different than last time.

The game is on at 8 PM PST on ESPN2.