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Arizona Preview: Beating No. 3 'Cats is a Tall Order

January 22, 2022
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Cal’s mens’ basketball team will be closer to full strength on Sunday when it hosts Arizona, which might not be.

The Bears (9-9, 2-5 Pac-12) should have a healthy and prepared Joel Brown available for the game, which tips off at noon. The Wildcats (15-1, 5-0), who are the nation’s third-ranked team, might be without Azuolas Tubelis, their second-leading scorer. The 6-7 forward, who averages 15.1 points per game, sprained an ankle against Stanford on Thursday night. 

“He's day-to-day and we'll see how he progresses,”  head coach Tommy Lloyd  told the Arizona Republic Saturday. “He's up and moving and he's feeling better but I don't know what that means for tomorrow yet.”

Cal’s Brown was in covid protocol last week and was not cleared until Saturday. He made it to Pullman just before halftime. He was sent into the game in the second half, but after a minute head coach Mark Fox could see Brown was not right.

© Kelley L Cox USA Today
Jordan Shepherd on the move

“We gave it roll of the dice, one swing of the bat,” Fox said, using a couple of metaphors to get his point across. “And we could tell as soon as was in the game, he was just out of rhythm and he just wasn’t himself.”

Brown’s absence was certainly felt on the trip to the Northwest. The Bears who average more than 64 points per game, averaged just 56 against the Huskies and Cougars and had only 17 assists vs. 25 turnovers.

“We obviously missed Joel over the weekend,” Fox said. “We missed his speed, his defense. We missed his rebounding, quite frankly.

“And obviously the rhythm that results from him being in the backcourt. When you move everybody around, it gets a little disjointed. We understood his value before the weekend, but certainly not having him over the weekend just made it more apparent to us how important he has been to our team.”

Because the Arizona State game originally scheduled for Thursday was played on Jan. 2, Brown and the Bears had a full week to get back into synch.

Even without Tubelis, Arizona still has plenty of talent as 7-0 reserve Omar Ballo, a transfer from Gonzaga, scored 21 points as the ‘Cats overwhelmed Stanford, 85-57.

“They have great versatility within their roster,” Fox said. “….They’re one of the tallest teams in America, Arizona, Stanford, SC are all in the top five in the size of their team. ….They can play small, play a bunch of wings and that is a challenging matchup. 

“For us, we’re a little undersized upfront, so when people downshift it is not the end of the world for us. But when you have the level of talent that Arizona has, you’ve got to be acutely aware of who is guarding who.”

Swingman Bennedict Mathurin (above) can play virtually anywhere on the court and leads the Wildcats in scoring at 17.7 ppg. . “A (NBA) lottery pick on the wing who is a nightmare for almost any teams,” is the way Fox describes him.

“They have length at the rim that is advantageous to them on both offense and defense,” Fox said. “And then they have great guard play and the ability to shoot the three.”

Speaking of shooting the three, Cal’s Grant Anticevich is just 7-for-28 on threes since he hit seven against UOP on Dec. 22. Fox thinks that teams are paying more attention to Anticevich and he is having trouble getting clean looks at the hoop. 

“He is seeing a different level of defense,” Fox said. “ He hasn’t lost any confidence. He’s got to continue to hunt the right shots because he is a great shooter. He has finally for the first time in his career been the focal point of the 

defense geared to stop him. He just has to deal with that.

 “We’ve got to get him some clean looks. When he gets them, he can’t hesitate to pull the trigger and it will come back to him.”

Notes 

  • Arizona has a lopsided lead in the series, 68-31.
  • Cal has lost nine consecutive games to Arizona. 
  • The Bears’ most recent win in the series was a 74-73 victory on Jan. 23, 2016, in Berkeley. 
  •  The Bears’ last win against an AP top-5 team was on Feb. 1, 2014, when they knocked off No. 1 Arizona, 60-58, in Berkeley on Justin Cobbs’ game-winner with 0.9 seconds left. 
  • Jordan Shepherd has scored double figures in 12 straight games. He is averaging 14.3 ppg.
  • He is still wearing a splint on his right hand and said that he reinjured his thumb in practice recently.
  • Despite being outrebounded three times in their last four games, the Bears are outrebounding their opponents 35.8 per game to 32.7
Discussion from...

Arizona Preview: Beating No. 3 'Cats is a Tall Order

1,126 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by HoopDreams
HoopDreams
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If Tubelis doesn't play and cal is full strength then we might be competitive, but I'm not optimistic even if he doesn't get off the bench

They demolished Stanford on the road with their size and talent and don't see a Cal win unless we get their bigs in foul trouble and we hit a bunch of threes

However we don't get bigs in foul trouble often due to our style of play
Alkiadt
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HoopDreams said:

If Tubelis doesn't play and cal is full strength then we might be competitive, but I'm not optimistic even if he doesn't get off the bench

They demolished Stanford on the road with their size and talent and don't see a Cal win unless we get their bigs in foul trouble and we hit a bunch of threes

However we don't get bigs in foul trouble often due to our style of play
I believe Cal will not be a full strength unfortunately.
HoopDreams
How long do you want to ignore this user?
We haven't been at full strength at any time this year, but is one of our top 7 players also out?

Alkiadt said:

HoopDreams said:

If Tubelis doesn't play and cal is full strength then we might be competitive, but I'm not optimistic even if he doesn't get off the bench

They demolished Stanford on the road with their size and talent and don't see a Cal win unless we get their bigs in foul trouble and we hit a bunch of threes

However we don't get bigs in foul trouble often due to our style of play
I believe Cal will not be a full strength unfortunately.
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