Basketball: Colorado game preview

TIPOFF: 2 p.m. Saturday at Haas Pavilion. TV/Radio: ESPNU/910-AM.

The Bears certainly understand the opportunity in front of them.

“Let’s be honest,” junior guard Justin Cobbs said. “We know we have two games left. If we handle our business and get those two, the rest is out of our hands.”

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen for the Bears. They are one game out of first place, sitting at 11-5 in the Pac-12 standings, with Oregon and UCLA each perched at 12-4. UCLA faces a stiff challenge at home Saturday against Arizona, and Oregon must play at Colorado next week.

Arizona also is 11-5, and Cal owns the tiebreaker against the Wildcats by virtue of its win in their one meeting. Likewise, the Bears have the tiebreaker edge vs. Oregon, whom they beat twice.

The issue isn’t math or what is intellectually possible. The Bears get all of that.

They just have to hit the floor with a head of steam with they take in the dangerous Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon.

Allen Crabbe, asked to explain how the Bears have won six in a row and eight of their past nine, said, “More team unity … really taking pride in our defense. Losing gets old. I guess everybody just came together.”

Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace, who has played a bigger role this season than he probably expected, acknowledged this is all very exciting. 

“I know the job still isn’t done,” he said. “We’ve got two tough games. We lost to these teams. We’ve got to come out and play as well as we’ve played in this win streak.”

THE STANDINGS: Oregon 12-4, UCLA 11-4, Arizona 11-5, Cal 11-5, Colorado 9-6, ASU 9-7, USC 8-7, Washington 7-8, Stanford 7-9, Utah 3-12, Oregon St. 3-13, Washington St. 2-13.

ABOUT THE BUFFALOES: CU has been a difficult matchup recently for Cal, with its length and explosiveness. The Buffaloes attack at both ends of the floor and rebound very well, thanks to junior PF Andre Roberson, who has 11 double-doubles and a pair of 20-rebound games this season. … “They run the floor very well , they’re very aggressive at point of attack,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “They take it right at you. They’ve been a tough matchup. We had everything we could do to win last year.” … Freshman F Josh Scott is questionable for Saturday’s game. He missed the past two games after hitting his head against Arizona State. … But fellow freshman F Xavier Johnson had a breakout game in the first meeting vs. Cal, scoring 18 points.

THE SERIES:  Colorado leads 11-10. The Buffaloes have won three in a row and five of the past six, including an 81-71 victory in Boulder earlier this season.

ETC: Cal was No. 46, according to RealTimeRPI.com, on Friday. Colorado checked in at No. 22. … ESPN.com bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Bears as a No. 10 seed in his latest NCAA tournament projection, matching them against No. 7 North Carolina State at Lexington, Ky. 

WHAT’S NEXT: Cal plays Stanford Wednesday at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8 p.m.

Cal (18-9, 10-5 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SG Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. 18.8 6.0
PF Richard Solomon 6-10 Jr. 8.5 6.6
PF David Kravish 6-9 So. 8.0 6.8
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 Jr. 14.8 4.7*
SG Tyrone Wallace 6-3 Fr. 7.2 4.4
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Sr. 2.8 2.2*
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Sr. 4.9 3.8
F Bak Bak 6-9 Sr. 1.7 1.1

Colorado (19-8, 9-6 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
PF Andre Roberson 6-7 Jr. 10.8 11.7
SF Xavier Johnson 6-6 Fr. 8.1 4.7
SG Sabatino Chen 6-4 Sr. 4.5 2.4
SG Askia Booker 6-1 So. 13.0 3.7
PG Spencer Dinwiddie 6-5 So. 15.4 2.9*
Key reserves
F Josh Scott 6-10 Fr. 11.4 5.0
G Jeremy Adams 6-5 Jr. 2.3 1.3
F-C Shane Harris-Tunks 6-11 Jr. 1.2 1.5


Jeff Faraudo