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Cal Basketball

Bears Visit Colorado Which Has the Wright Stuff

January 13, 2021

Coming off its first Pac-12 win of the season, the Cal men’s basketball team heads for the mountains and road games at Colorado, Thursday 11 a.m., and Utah, Saturday, 7 p.m.

This high-altitude trek is seldom easy and it won’t be this time especially the first game.  The last time Colorado took to its home court it knocked off No. 17 Oregon. Since then the Buffs went to Salt Lake City on Monday and took care of the Utes, 65-58. That was the fourth straight loss for Utah.

Cal (6-7, 1-5 Pac-12) defeated Washington on Saturday in Berkeley for its first conference win. The Bears have yet to win on the road this season.

They have been without leading scorer Matt Bradley for the last two games and four of the last six because of an ankle injury. Also reserve forward Kuany Kuany missed the last game because of concussion protocol. Cal made no announcement of their availability for Thursday despite inquires from Bear Insider. 

The Buffaloes lead the all-time series, 18-16, and the Bears are just 2-13 in Boulder. Cal won the most recent meeting, 72-62, last year in Berkeley. Bradley had 26 points in that game. He might come in handy this time.

The Colorado offense, one of the better ones in the Pac-12, runs through senior guard McKinley Wright IV (25 above). He is billed as the best senior guard in the conference to never have appeared in an NCAA Tournament game. To change that distinction is one of the reasons he came back to Boulder rather than turn pro. He is truly a complete player and has twice been voted first-team All-Pac-12.. 

He had nine points and four assists against Utah to tie Jay Humphries school record in the latter category at 562. That mark will fall on Thursday and by the end of the season, Wright will have buried it.

"I joked with coach (Tad Boyle) and told him that I wanted to break the record at home so I can keep the game ball," Wright said. "My dad really wants it. Hopefully we come out victorious, hopefully I get one assist and break the record so I can keep that game ball and give it to my pops."

"He's breaking a guy's record who I played against," Boyle said. "Jay Humphries played 15 years in the NBA. He was a helluva player at Colorado, was a helluva player in the NBA. He's breaking a guy's record who was a really special player."

Wright has a good chance to be the first Pac-12 conference player to record 1,600 points, 600 assists, and 600 rebounds in his career. His current totals are 1,555, 561 and 562. Over the last nine games Wright has dished out 47 assists while committing only 14 turnovers, a 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Freshman Jabari Walker, a 6-8 forward who had been struggling, had a breakout game against Utah with 15 points and ten rebounds.

Graduate transfer Jeriah Horne leads Colorado in rebounding at 5.9 per game and in 3-pointers with 20. Horne is second in scoring at 10.7 points per contest. Horne, who has started the last four games, had season-highs in points and field goals made with 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting against Oregon,

Seven-foot center Dallas Walton, whose field goal percentage is a gaudy 67.6, has missed the last four games because of a leg injury. The Buffs have offered no update on his status.

Jeffrey Swinger -- USA Today
TImmy Allen drives against Evan Battey

Cal would be well-advised to keep the Buffaloes off the foul line. They lead the country in free-throw percentage, hitting 84.5 percent (185-for-219). Among the most accurate is 6-8 forward Evan Battey (83.3). His style under the hoop looks a lot like Cal’s Andre Kelly. That will be a matchup worth watching.

As a team Colorado is hitting 36.6 percent from 3-point range, the second-best figure in the league.

Utah Notes

  • The Utes (4-5, 1-4) host Stanford on Thursday afternoon.
  • They are turning blowing halftime leads into an art-form. They have led by at least ten points in each of the games in the streak In those four games they have been outscored by a combined .67 points in the second half.
  • “We just played four really good teams, two on the road, two at home,” coach Larry Krystowiak said. “And we have had periods, I would say, maybe two-thirds of our basketball has been really good. A third hasn’t.”
  • Junior forward Timmy Allen is the key to the Utes. He has been on a tear in his last six games averaging 17.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, and that includes a 5-point effort at USC on Jan.2. He has scored 18 points or more in five of the six games. For the season his average is 15.8 and he also grabs 5.6 rebounds.
  • “He does a good job with the ball in his hands. He does a good job getting to the basket,” Krystkowiak said. “I just can’t get over how many times he gets to the rim and gets fouled and it doesn’t get called.”
  • Forward Mikael Janteun, who hails from Helsinki, Finland, had to leave the loss to Colorado with an injury. The 6-8 sophomore is listed as the starter against Stanford so he presumably is OK. He averages 9.6 points per game and leads the team with a 60.7 shooting percentage. 
Jeffrey Swinger -- USA Today
Brandon Carlson falls after twisting ankle

His replacement 7-0 Branden Carlson, who had started the first seven games, limped off the floor with assistance after landing awkwardly. There was no word on his availability for this week.


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