The RPI computer gave Cal’s basketball team a nice digital bump after its 77-69 upset of then No. 7 Arizona, elevating the Bears from No. 75 to 59 nationally. “I don’t understand all that,” said Cal’s Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 scoring leader.
By any measure, the Bears (14-9, 6-5 Pac-12) have a steep climb ahead to reach the NCAA tournament. The work starts Thursday at 6 p.m. with a home game against UCLA (18-6, 8-3), which began the week tied for first in the Pac-12.
“We know what we have to do,” point guard Justin Cobbs said. “We go 5-0 at home and see what we can do on the road. We’re pretty confident we can get two on the road: 7-0 and we’re in.”
Perhaps so. And although the Bears have lost four times at Haas Pavilion this season, they do have a favorable schedule to close the regular season, with five home dates and a trip to Oregon next week.
The real question is, short of winning the Pac-12 tournament and the league’s automatic berth, what must Cal do to reach the NCAAs for the fourth time in five seasons under coach Mike Montgomery?
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ABOUT THE BRUINS: UCLA features one of the nation’s most productive freshmen classes, led by wing player Shabazz Muhammad, who ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 18.5 ppg. Along with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, the three UCLA rookies have combined to average 42.6 points, 17.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. … This is just the fifth true road game for the Bruins, who did not play a nonconference game on an opponent’s floor. … Senior Larry Drew II ranks fourth nationally in assists per game at 7.9. … The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in scoring (76.0 ppg) and turnover margin (plus-3.3), but rank 11th in scoring defense (68.4) and last in rebound margin (minus-0.2) .
THE SERIES: UCLA leads 133-100. The Bruins won 79-65 in Los Angeles on Jan. 3, led by 19 points and 12 rebounds from freshman Kyle Anderson and 16 points from freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Allen Crabbe scored 21 for Cal. The Bears have won three of the pasts four meetings and five of the past seven.
ETC: Thursday night’s game is designated the third annual Pete Newell Classic, and former Golden Bears star Andy Wolfe (1946-48) will be honored during halftime ceremonies as recipient of the Pete Newell Career Achievement Award. … Junior Allen Crabbe has moved to No. 13 on Cal’s career scoring list with 1,385 points. Next up: Keith Smith (1987-90) with 1,398. … Coach Mike Montgomery’s next victory will be No. 650 in his 31-year collegiate career. He is eighth among active Division I coaches. … David Kravish, just a sophomore, needs one blocked shot to move even with Lamond Murray for sixth on Cal’s career list.
WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays USC on Sunday at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 7 p.m.
Cal (14-9, 6-5 Pac-12)
|SG Allen Crabbe||6-6||Jr.||19.8||5.6|
|PF Richard Solomon||6-10||Jr.||8.0||6.4|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||So.||7.9||6.7|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||Jr.||14.6||4.3*|
|SG Tyrone Wallace||6-3||Fr.||7.2||4.7|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Sr.||2.9||2.2*|
|C Robert Thurman||6-10||Sr.||5.0||3.7|
|F Bak Bak||6-9||Sr.||1.9||1.0|
UCLA (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12)
|SF Shabazz Muhammad||6-6||Fr.||18.5||5.0|
|PF Travis Wear||6-10||Jr.||11.8||5.7|
|SG Jordan Adams||6-5||Fr.||14.7||3.7|
|SG Kyle Anderson||6-9||Fr.||9.4||8.8|
|PG Larry Drew II||6-2||Sr.||6.5||7.9*|
|F David Wear||6-10||Jr.||7.0||4.8|
|G Norman Powell||6-4||So.||6.8||2.3|
|C Tony Parker||6-9||Fr.||2.5||1.2|