TIPOFF: 1 p.m. Saturday at the L.A. Sports Arena. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
* A five-way tie for the Pac-12 lead by Sunday is no long-shot
A lot at stake at the L.A. Sports Arena, UCLA’s temporary home floor.
— Cal can complete its first regular-season sweep of the L.A. schools since 1958-59.
— Mike Montgomery can become the first Cal coach ever to post at least 20 victories in three of his first four seasons.
Of course, the Bears want to hold onto a share of first place. The Bruins, winners of four of their past five games, are hoping to continue their ascension after beating Stanford 72-61 on Thursday.
Bruins coach Ben Howland continues to be impressed by the Cal team that beat his Bruins 85-69 on New Year’s Eve.
“They’re really good,” Howland said Friday. “Cal is definitely a team that could go into the NCAA tournament and make a nice run.”
The Bruins are on the outside looking into that picture at this point, and need nothing less than a run through the Pac-12 tournament in order to get an NCAA invite.
Here’s a breakdown of the remaining schedule of the six teams at the top of the Pac-12 standings:
— Cal (9-3): at UCLA, Oregon, OSU, at Utah, at Colorado at Stanford.
— Washington (9-3): at OSU, ASU, Arizona, at WSU, at USC, at UCLA.
— Arizona (8-4): Utah, at WSU, at Washington, USC, UCLA, at ASU.
— Oregon (8-4): WSU, at Cal, at Stanford, at OSU, Colorado, Utah.
— Colorado (8-4): at ASU, at Utah, Stanford, Cal, at Oregon, at OSU.
— UCLA (7-5): Cal, USC, at St. John’s (non-conference), at ASU, at Arizona,. WSU, UW.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: UCLA has tightened its defense and changed its backcourt equation since the first Cal game. Seniors Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones have swapped guard spots, with Anderson now running the point so Jones can focus more on scoring. Sophomore twins David and Travis Wear, transfers from North Carolina, have settled in, and Travis played 28 minutes against Stanford five days after sitting out the Washington State game with an ankle sprain.
The Bruins’ pivotable piece is sophomore center Joshua Smith, who began the season out of shape but gradually is playing better. He had 43 points in games against Washington and Washington State two weeks ago. Foul trouble has plagued the 6-foot-10, 305-pound sophomore, but Howland said Smith simply needs to slow down. “A guy like Smith,” said Cal senior Harper Kamp, “he’s so big you’ve got to do your work early, keep him from getting position.”
Howland wants to believe the rematch will be better than the Bruins’ first game vs. Cal. “We’re better than we were in late December. They played really well and we played really poorly, especially defensively,” Howland said. “Got to give them credit, though. They’re a very good team. They had a lot to do with us not looking that great defensively. They really took it to us.”
THE SERIES: UCLA leads 132-99, meaning that Cal can secure victory No. 100 in the series on Saturday. Cal has won four of the past five meetings.
MISCELLANY: Kamp needs one point and five rebounds to become just the 18th Cal player to reach 1,000/500 for his career . . . Cal, which had averaged 17.3 points from the free throw line the previous three games, was just 4 for 8 at the foul line vs. USC. It was the fewest points the Bears have scored from the line this season . . .UCLA shot 17 for 27 from the free throw line in its win over Stanford, including just 6 for 11 in the final 1:19 . . . The Bruins scored 28 points off 22 Stanford turnovers.
Cal (19-6, 9-3 Pac-12)
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||So.||16.0||6.0|
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Sr.||10.4||4.9|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||Fr.||5.8||5.5|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Sr.||13.7||5.3|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||So.||12.6||4.6*|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Jr.||3.6||2.7*|
|G Emerson Murray||6-2||So.||1.9||0.8|
|C Robert Thurman||6-10||Jr.||3.6||1.8|
UCLA (14-10, 7-5 Pac-12)
|C Joshua Smith||6-10||So.||10.6||5.2|
|PF David Wear||6-10||So.||10.1||6.0|
|SG Tyler Lamb||6-5||So.||8.9||3.5|
|SG Lazeric Jones||6-1||Sr.||13.7||4.5*|
|PG Jerime Anderson||6-2||Sr.||8.4||4.0*|
|F Travis Wear||6-10||So.||11.9||5.1|
|G Norman Powell||6-3||Fr.||5.1||2.3|
|C Anthony Stover||6-10||So.||0.7||1.6|