By Randy Rosetta
Inspin.com/WagerWeb.com Contributing Writer
California gets a chance to climb back into the Pac-10 Conference hunt this weekend when it travels up the Pacific Coast to face Oregon State and Oregon on the road.
The Golden Bears (11-6, 3-2 Pac-10) play in Corvallis against the Beavers (9-9, 1-4) at 10:30 p.m. EST Thursday night. Cal has split its last two league weekends, sandwiched around a key victory at Stanford.
Tonight begins a stretch of six games in eight on the road for the Bears, who are 5-4 away from Berkley this season.
California freshman Ryan Anderson has shifted to the center spot and responded well since DeVon Hardin went down with a stress fracture in his foot. Anderson produced 18 points and 14 rebounds last week against Washington, sparking the Bears past the Huskies 77-69 in overtime.
Anderson also limited 7-foot UW standout Spencer Hawes to only 13 points and 5 boards in a matchup of two of the league’s top freshmen. Anderson is the only player in the Pac-10 ranked in the top five in scoring and rebounding (17.2 points, 8.9 rebounds per game) and is on pace to be only the third Cal freshman to lead the team in both categories since 1957-58.
Bears senior point guard Ayinde Ubaka has also been a major presence with 14.2 points a game and 87 assists (third in Pac-10 with 5.1 a game). Against Washington, Ubaka produced six points in OT. With 18 more points, Ubaka will become the first player in Cal history to record 1,000 points, 300 assists and 100 3-pointers in his career.
Since 1999 the Bears have dominated Oregon State, winning 14 of the last 17 games, including a 10-1 mark in Corvallis. But the Beavers come in with some confidence after winning at Arizona State, 67-59 last Saturday, to snap a four-game losing streak.
OSU is getting big contributions recently from junior guard Angelo Tsagarakis, who has found the mark on 11 of his last 25 3-point shots. The Beavers’ leader is junior forward Marcel Jones (16 ppg, 6.2 rpg), who went off for 45 points and 20 rebounds vs. Arizona and Arizona State last week.
Cal is a slight 2.5-point favorite on WagerWeb.com against OSU on Thursday night.
STANFORD at No. 9 OREGON, 8:30 p.m. EST Thursday: The Cardinal have quietly and narrowly emerged as a Pac-10 contender with three straight wins by a total of six points, including upsets last week over ranked foes Washington and Washington State. Stanford (11-4, 4-2) got 30 points against WSU from Anthony Goods, the Pac-10 Player of the Week who buried 11-of-16 shots from the floor and 5-of-8 from 3-point range – the last with 3.3 seconds to go to spur the Cardinal to a 71-68 overtime triumph. Over the last three games, Goods has notched 60 points and knocked down 11-of-24 3-pointers. Stanford owns seven consecutive wins against Oregon (16-1, 4-1), the league co-leader with UCLA, including an unlikely three-game winning streak at MacArthur Court. Besides trying to end their frustration against the Cardinal, the Ducks are also looking to match their best start since 1926-27 (17-1). Oregon comes in after its first-ever sweep against the Arizona schools since it joined the league in 1978-79 and the Ducks’ first Pac-10 road sweep anywhere since 2002. All five OU starters are producing double-digit scoring, and the leader is Aaron Brooks, whose 18.2 points a game are second-most in the league. Brooks has been big in crunch time this season for Oregon, scoring points that have either won or tied a game in the final minute or overtime four times this season. The senior guard has moved into the Ducks’ top 10 in scoring (17th with 1,180 points), assists (5th with 399), steals (7th with 108), 3-pointers made (8th with 157) and free-throw shooting (5th at 83.2 percent). Junior Malik Hairston provided a spark for OU last week, coming back from a foot injury to log 31 points and 16 rebounds against Arizona State and Arizona. Oregon is a 10-point favorite on WagerWeb.com.
ARIZONA STATE at No. 3 UCLA, 10:30 p.m. EST Thursday: The Sun Devils are getting the job done on defense, allowing only 63.9 points a game, the program’s best since 1949-50. But last-place Arizona State (6-11, 0-6) has struggled offensively, scratching out only 62.5 points a contest (last in the Pac-10) and shooting just 42.8 percent from the floor (9th). The Devils’ freshmen are carrying a big part of the load, averaging 87.1 minutes among them. Rookie point guard Derek Gasser has logged 35.1 minutes per game over the last seven and leads ASU with 58 assists. Sophomore forward Jeff Pendergraph has been the only reliable scoring threat in Pac-10 play (16.5 points a game) and has averaged a double-double (15 points, 10.6 rebounds) over the last nine games. He is shooting a torrid 81.6 percent (31-of-38) from the field in the last four games. UCLA (15-1, 4-1) remained tied for the conference lead by surviving a scare vs. USC last week without second-leading scorer Josh Shipp (14.7 ppg), who was on the shelf with a hamstring tear. Darren Collison and Lorenzo Mata helped pick up the slack against the Trojans with 17 and 12 points, respectively. The Bruins have shot 34 percent or higher from 3-point territory in each of the last 10 games and continue to lead the Pac-10 in that category at 40.2 percent (121-of-301), paced by Collison, who leads the league at 52.1 percent (25 of 48) from beyond the arc. He also leads the league with 39 steals and ranks second with 96 assists (6 per game). UCLA is a 19.5-point favorite on WagerWeb.com.
No. 11 ARIZONA at SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 10:30 p.m. EST Thursday: The Wildcats stumbled at home to Oregon last week and dropped out of a first-place tie. UA (13-3, 4-2) continues to lead the Pac-10 with 85.7 points a game, but is also giving up 74 per contest. Sophomore forward Marcus Williams leads the league with 18.4 points a game after torching the Ducks for a career-best 34 points and 12 rebounds in the losing effort. The Wildcats head to Los Angeles for what may be the hardest road swing in the Pac-10 this season. Southern California (13-5, 3-2) lost a heartbreaker against UCLA (65-64) last week and is four points away from being undefeated in league games. The Trojans have held 14 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the floor and lead the Pac-10 in field-goal defense (35.2 percent). SC is getting big play from freshman forward Taj Gibson, who has 36 blocked shots after swatting away four against the Bruins. He needs eight more rejections to snap the Trojan freshman record for blocks. Gibson is also Southern California’s top rebounder with 9.2 caroms a game and averages 13.3 points, while Nick Young is the Trojans’ leading scorer with 16.4 points a game – fourth in the league. SC is 3-2 against ranked foes this season, with wins against Wichita State, Washington and Oregon. Arizona is the favorite on WagerWeb.com, but only by 1.5 points.
WASHINGTON at WASHINGTON STATE, 6 p.m. EST Saturday (FSN): Something will have to budge when the Huskies and Cougars collide in Pullman. Washington (11-6, 1-5) brings one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country (83.4 points a game), while Washington State (13-3, 4-2) counters with the Pac-10’s stingiest defense (58.7 a game). Until this week, both state programs were ranked concurrently for the first time in 22 years, but both fell from the AP poll after losing in the Bay Area last week. WSU lost an OT nail biter at Stanford (71-68) despite Kyle Weaver’s 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists – the first triple-double in Cougar history. He also added 6 steals. WSU swept the Huskies last season and look for a third straight win in the series for the first time since 1993-95. Washington has won 14 of the last 20 games against their Apple State rivals. The Huskies got outrebounded by Cal, 47-36, the first time they haven’t won the battle on the glass this season. Despite that, UW leads the league with a +9.5 rebound margin and 15.1 offensive boards a game. Sophomore Jon Brockman was limited to only 6 rebounds by the Bears, but still leads the league with 9.8 a game. He has snatched 10 or more boards 11 times this season.
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