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Cal Men’s Basketball Preview: Conference Champions Washington Visit Haas Pavilion

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Golden Bears will need to tighten up their second-half play to remain competitive

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona State
California freshman Matt Bradley earned his first double-double against Arizona State earlier this week.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The California Golden Bears (5-22, 0-15 Pac-12) play host to the No. 25 Washington Huskies (22-5, 13-1 Pac-12) Thursday night as the Pacific 12 Conference regular season comes to an end. The contest will showcase the two sides’ divergent trajectories this season.

At stake for the home side is the Golden Bears’ first league victory, which has continued to be elusive. California last won a conference match on Feb. 3, 2018, when they defeated the Oregon State Beavers 74-70 in Haas Pavilion.

With a victory over the Golden Bears, the Huskies can claim the league title outright. Washington clinched a share of the regular season conference championship this past weekend with a 64-55 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes. The accomplishment earned the Seattle team its first national ranking since the preseason.

The Huskies have succeeded this season by suffocating its opponents’ offense. Washington ranks No. 22 in the nation in turnovers forced, averaging more than 16 in each contest, and a turnover margin of +2.8. Better still, Washington is No. 3 in the country with an average six blocks per game, for a total of 161 blocks this season.

California will need nearly perfect play for all phases of the game Thursday. The Golden Bears have been competitive in the first half this season — holding opponents to one possession-leads or even leading opponents before the break — but often concede double-digit runs in the second half.

Projected Washington Huskies Starters

  1. Jaylen Nowell, guard: 16.1 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game
  2. David Crisp, guard: 12.1 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game
  3. Matisse Thybulle, guard: 9.9 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game
  4. Noah Dickerson, forward: 12.7 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, 1 assist per game
  5. Hameir Wright, forward: 2.8 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game, 0.9 assists per game

Key Washington Huskies Reserves

  1. Jamal Bey, guard: 0.6 points per game, 0.6 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game
  2. Nahziah Carter, forward: 8.1 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, 0.8 assists per game
  3. Dominic Green, forward: 6.6 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, 0.7 assists per game
  4. Sam Timmins, forward: 2.3 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game

Following the Bears

Tip-off between California and Washington is at 8 p.m. PT. The contest will be broadcast live on FS1 and the Fox Sports Go website and mobile application. The match is also available on California Golden Bears Sports Network on KGO 810 AM and the TuneIn mobile application.