Cal has beaten the Cougars five straight times, yet this couldn’t be a more complicated assignment.
Are the Bears recovered psychologically from Thursday’s 109-77 loss at Washington? Let’s face it, the game was much worse than the final score.
And are they physically intact after freshman guard Allen Crabbe took a knee to the face from WSU 7-footer Aziz N’Diaye and sat out practice Friday due to a minor concussion?
Crabbe, the team’s No. 2 scorer in Pac-10 games and only consistent 3-point threat, is scheduled to be examined again Saturday morning and then just before warmups. He is listed as a game-time decision, but I wouldn’t bet on him playing. Concussions are far too serious an issue these days.
Freshman reserve guard Emerson Murray took a hard fall on his hip Thursday night, but returned to action, practiced Friday and should be fine.
Big question is who will start if Crabbe must sit.
The Bears could go big with freshman forward Richard Solomon.
They could start Murray, who is quick and helps the matchup against WSU’s three-guard lineup.
Or they could start 6-foot-7 walk-on freshman Jeff Powers, who scored 13 points off the bench at Washington, including the team’s only two 3-pointers.
My guess is Powers. If you go with Solomon, you’ve got no lift off the bench. Murray provides defensive quickness, but is no threat to score, inside or out. At least Powers forces the defense to account for him on the perimeter.
The Bears’ state of mind no doubt is shaky, so Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez and Marhuri Sanders-Frison get to flex their leadership muscles.
Cal, WSU and Stanford are tied for fourth place, all at 6-6. Given that the Cardinal figures to lose at Washington, the winner of the Cal-WSU game will be sitting by itself in fourth place.
WSU SCOUT: The Cougars are led by junior SG Klay Thompson, the Pac-10 scoring leader who scored went for 36 points against Cal in the Bears’ 88-81 overtime victory at Berkeley. Thompson is fourth on WSU’s career scoring list with 1.525 points, but he is averaging just 11.0 ppg on 12 for 33 shooting over the past three games. The Cougars lost two of those . . . Junior PF DeAngelo Casto is an improved if under-utilized inside scorer, a rugged rebounder and defender who is second in the conference in blocked shots at 1.59 per game . . . WSU is first in the Pac-10 in field-goal percentage defense at .386.
THE SERIES: Cal leads 73-45. The Bears have won the past five — all five since Mike Montgomery became coach — including an 88-81 victory at Berkeley last month.
ETCETERA: Cal has scored and allowed exactly the same number of points after 24 games — 1,722 or 71.8 ppg . . . The Bears are last in the conference in scoring defense, and in Pac-10 games are allowing 79.4 per game. Of course, surrendering 216 the past two games impacted that . . . The Bears have attempted more free throws (353) and made more (243) than any Pac-10 team in conference play, but are just fifth in accuracy at .688.
TIPOFF: 3 p.m. Saturday at Friel Court in Pullman, Wash. TV: None. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal (13-10, 6-5)
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Jr.||14.8||5.5|
|C Markhuri Sanders-Frison||6-7||Sr.||10.9||7.3|
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||Fr.||12.0||5.5|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Jr.||13.6||4.4*|
|PG Brandon Smith||5-11||So.||5.5||3.8*|
|F Richard Solomon||6-9||Fr.||5.4||4.0|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||So.||2.6||2.7|
|G Emerson Murray||6-3||Fr.||0.7||0.5|
Washington State (16-8, 6-6)
|PF DeAngelo Castro||6-8||Jr.||11.1||6.5|
|PF Brock Motum||6-10||So.||6.8||2.7|
|SG Klay Thompson||6-6||Jr.||20.9||5.2|
|SG Marcus Capers||6-4||Jr.||6.9||4.9|
|PG Reggie Moore||6-1||So.||9.6||3.9*|
|G Faisel Aden||6-4||Jr.||13.1||3.4|
|F Abe Lodwick||6-7||Jr.||3.0||4.1|
|F Patrick Simon||6-8||Fr.||4.0||1.8|