GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears take aim at their fifth Pac-12 Conference win of the campaign, as they host the Washington State Cougars on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Bears ran over Washington on Wednesday night, 82-56, for their fourth victory in as many tries against conference competition, and their fifth straight overall. They are now 13-4, which includes a perfect 9-0 mark at home. However, a trip to face USC is next on the schedule.
While California has been heating up, Washington State has gone ice cold, with losses in four of its last five games. During that stretch the Cougars, who are just 8-9 overall, have scored more than 50 points just once. They will return home to host Oregon State next.
In just a single meeting last season, Cal earned a 67-54 victory over WSU. The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Cougars in the series, which the Golden Bears lead by a 74-47 margin.
The Cougars met up with Stanford in their last outing and suffered a lopsided 80-48 defeat on the road. They connected on just 37 percent of their shots from the floor in the loss, while being outscored 34-12 in the paint. Que Johnson did manage a game-high 21 points in the contest.
Without a doubt, Washington State has been the worst offensive team in the Pac-12 this season. The Cougars rank dead last in scoring (63.9 ppg), assists (11.1 apg) and field goal percentage (.420). The poor offensive effort has come despite some strong defensive play, as they are 38th nationally in scoring defense (64 ppg). Hurting the cause even more has been the absence of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy (17.7 ppg), who has been out since Jan. 6 with torn cartilage in his ribs. Johnson (10.1 ppg) has done his best in taking over the leading scorer's role, netting double figures in four straight contests.
Powered by double-doubles from Richard Solomon (13 points, 12 rebounds) and David Kravish (11 points, 11 rebounds), California was able to get past Washington earlier in the week. The Golden Bears shot 55 percent in the contest, while logging 10 more assists than the Huskies (22-12).
Solomon (12.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg) and Kravish (11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg) are no strangers to double-double efforts, as the duo has combined for 14 of them, with Solomon credited with 10. Solomon also leads the conference in rebounding, and is the only player in the league averaging a double-double. The Golden Bears are also strong in the backcourt where Justin Cobbs (14.9 ppg, 6.4 apg) and Tyrone Wallace (11.9 ppg, 3.2 apg) make their living. Cobbs is the team's top scoring option, but he has been just as vital passing the ball, ranking second in the league in assists. Jabari Bird (10.6 ppg) made his return to the rotation on Wednesday, although he had only two points in 12 minutes of action.
The Golden Bears have one of the more balanced lineups in the conference, if not the country. Their ability to produce both in the paint and on the perimeter makes them far too much for the Cougars to handle.
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