Arizona Wildcats at California Golden Bears
Arizona Wildcats Preview
The Arizona Wildcats have split their past 14 games and are coming off a 65-52 home loss to UCLA on Saturday, after which coach Sean Miller lamented his team’s lack of success against slow-down, grinding opponents, such as the Bruins.
Thursday’s foe, Cal, plays at an even slower tempo, presenting an immediate challenge to the Wildcats, who have wanted to open the attack this season behind a trio of freshmen — post Zeke Nnaji (16.2 points, 8.9 rebounds per game), point guard Nico Mannion (14.0 points, 5.5 assists) and wing Josh Green (11.9 points). Miller hinted at a lineup change, presumably swapping out cold-shooting Dylan Smith (4-for-27 in the past four games) for Jemarl Baker Jr., who has an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 5-to-1.
California Golden Bears Preview
The California Golden Bears, under first-year coach Mark Fox, have been a tougher out than expected in Pac-12 play after being picked to finish last in a preseason media poll. Cal is 4-1 in conference games at home — losing only to then-No. 11 Oregon — and Matt Bradley is averaging 21 points in those five games.
The sophomore guard is averaging 17.6 points overall and is an all-conference talent on a team that doesn’t have another double-digit scorer but can frustrate opponents with its deliberate pace (such as in a 52-50 home upset of Stanford on Jan. 26). Bradley has eight 20-point games this season; the rest of the team has three.