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The Bounce: Cal as close to a must-win as it gets

UA guard Nic Wise is called for an offensive foul against Cal's Theo Robertson in Arizona's 69-55 loss to the Bears on Jan 2. Wise scored 16 points in the game.

UA guard Nic Wise is called for an offensive foul against Cal's Theo Robertson in Arizona's 69-55 loss to the Bears on Jan 2. Wise scored 16 points in the game.

Arizona vs. California: Steve Rivera’s breakdown of the game • Wildcat notes • Players to watch

BACKCOURT

Advantage: California

Cal has one of the most underrated backcourts in the West. Who would have thought Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher would be so good? Together they combine for 35 points, with Randle averaging 18 of those. They’ll be tough to stop in the backcourt. UA will have to extend its defense. But UA’s Nic Wise and Kyle Fogg have played well for Arizona. Not sure, however, if Wise and Fogg can stop Cal’s duo.

FRONTCOURT

Advantage: Arizona

Depending on the health and mobility of Jordan Hill, UA should win this battle. Cal doesn’t have anyone near the basket that can stop a healthy Hill. And Cal plays at a fast enough tempo where Chase Budinger will feel comfortable. Jamal Boykin is the best Cal big man. UA should dominate on the boards.

DEFENSE

Advantage: Arizona

UA’s defense can get aggressive when it wants to, depending on the opponent. Cal is the perfect opponent. But UA will have to extend the zone on the perimeter and not allow penetration to the basket. Cal’s field goal percentage defense (45.2) ranks seventh in the league; UA is at 43.0 – good enough for fourth in the conference.

OUTCOME

This will be a close game for about a half. Cal is unquestionably one of the more improved teams in the league. UA must play like its life depends on a win. UA doesn’t call it a must-win, but I do.

Prediction: UA by 9

UA-CAL SERIES AT A GLANCE

All-time meetings: UA leads 51-26

Pac-10 meetings: UA leads 48-16

Longest UA win streak: 10 (2000-04)

Longest Cal win streak: 5 (1936-58)

Current series streak: Cal, 1 in a row

Earlier this season: Cal 69, UA 55 (Jan. 2 in Berkeley)

Last season: UA 79, Cal 75 (Jan. 19 in Berkeley); UA 83, Cal 73 (Feb. 14 in Tucson)

First meeting: Cal 38, UA 30 (1924 in Oakland)

NOTEBOOK

More honors ahead for Lute

It will be a busy couple of weeks for former Arizona coach Lute Olson. Tonight there’s the UA tribute during halftime of the UA-Cal game. Next week, he will be honored at the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.

“I’m glad to see they are doing something for him – it’s well deserved,” said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, a longtime friend of Olson’s and a longtime friendly rival while at Stanford from 1986-2004. “He and I go back a long way. I hope everyone appreciates the job he’s done for Arizona basketball.”

Interim coach Russ Pennell agreed, saying he hopes there is more than just the ceremony. And there is. UA will hold a get-together in August with former players for a dinner and ceremony.

“What this guy has done for this university, he deserves it,” Pennell said. “I really believe, as time goes by, people are going to see exactly what he did here, and how special that is.

“Sometimes you can get calloused to greatness. When you look at the history of college basketball, they should build a wing in Springfield, Mass., for UA basketball and what he has done in college basketball.”

ASU’s Pendergraph calls out his teammates

Emotional and angry, senior Arizona State forward Jeff Pendergraph called out his teammates after their overtime loss at Washington State.

“I know what we have to do to win,” Pendergraph said, “and I’m trying to get everybody else to realize it. It’s not like (I was saying) ‘I know what I have to do and I’m fine and my teammates suck.’ . . . We’re just so close to figuring out what that little, itty-bitty piece is that we need to go from being really good to being a great, championship team.”

Thursday night, No. 21 ASU hosts Stanford, which fell to the Sun Devils 90-60 in January, when Pendergraph scored a career-high 31 points.

The Arizona Republic

Jordan</p>
<p>Hill:</p>
<p>I can't remember the last time any Cat played with as much courage as Hill last weekend against Washington after he suffered that left ankle sprain. I believe Hill will play Thursday in a game that UA needs.

Jordan

Hill:

I can't remember the last time any Cat played with as much courage as Hill last weekend against Washington after he suffered that left ankle sprain. I believe Hill will play Thursday in a game that UA needs.

Brandon</p>
<p>Lavender:</p>
<p>He got into the game last week against Washington and didn't disappoint. He may get another opportunity Thursday against Cal. UA could use the help off the bench, in fact it could have used help all season.

Brandon

Lavender:

He got into the game last week against Washington and didn't disappoint. He may get another opportunity Thursday against Cal. UA could use the help off the bench, in fact it could have used help all season.

Jerome</p>
<p>Randle:</p>
<p>Randle is the star of the Bears. Cal doesn't have a lot of stars (that's what makes this team special), but Randle has come out of the blue with quick moves and a rainbow shot. Short in stature (5 foot 10) but long on ability.

Jerome

Randle:

Randle is the star of the Bears. Cal doesn't have a lot of stars (that's what makes this team special), but Randle has come out of the blue with quick moves and a rainbow shot. Short in stature (5 foot 10) but long on ability.

Patrick</p>
<p>Christopher:</p>
<p>Last week on ESPN, former coach Bobby Knight raved about Christopher's athleticism  and his ability to shoot the fade-away jumper. If he gets going Thursday, UA will find it tough to stop him.

Patrick

Christopher:

Last week on ESPN, former coach Bobby Knight raved about Christopher's athleticism and his ability to shoot the fade-away jumper. If he gets going Thursday, UA will find it tough to stop him.

———

UP NEXT

Thursday: California (21-8, 10-6) at Arizona (18-11, 8-8), 8:30 p.m. TV: FSNA. Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM

Saturday: Stanford (16-11, 5-11) at Arizona, 5:30 p.m. TV: FSNA. Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM

———

How teams match up

Arizona Cal

71.6 Points per game 75.1

47.2 Field goal % 49.0

67.3 Points allowed per game 67.2

43.0 Foes’ field goal % 43.7

———

Tickets still available

UA says some tickets are left for Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. game vs. Cal and Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. game vs. Stanford at McKale. Call 621-2287 or go to McKale ticket office from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

———

PAC-10 STANDINGS

School Conf. Overall

Washington 13-4 22-7

UCLA 11-5 22-7

Arizona State 10-6 21-7

California 10-6 21-8

Arizona 8-8 18-11

Washington State 8-9 16-13

USC 7-9 16-12

Oregon State 7-9 13-14

Stanford 5-11 16-11

Oregon 2-14 8-20

———

PAC-10 SCHEDULE

Thursday’s games: California at Arizona, 8:30 p.m.; Stanford at Arizona State, 6:30 p.m.; Oregon State at UCLA, 8:30 p.m.; Oregon at USC, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s games: Stanford at Arizona, 5:30 p.m.; California at Arizona State, TBA: Oregon State at USC, TBA: Oregon at UCLA, TBA: Washington State at Washington, TBA

———

PAC-10 LEADERS

Scoring

1. James Harden, ASU 20.8

2. Jordan Hill, UA 18.2

Rebounding

1. Jon Brockman, Washington 11.3

2. Jordan Hill, UA 11.0

Assists

1. Jerome Randle, California 5.1

6. Nic Wise, UA 4.6

Blocks

1. Taj Gibson, USC 2.8

2. Jordan Hill, UA 1.9

———

SPORTS SOUND-OFF

Tucson owes a lot to Olson

Re: Slimmer version, but Lute’s still Lute

• I had the pleasure of working for Coach O and his great staff as a basketball manager from 2003-2007. It was the greatest experience of my life. Now I am working at ESPN in Bristol, thanks to a letter of recommendation from Coach Olson. We all owe so much to the man who put Tucson on the map and gave us something to be proud of. Thank you for all the great memories. DANNYC10

• A strong and competent AD would have stepped in when Olson’s personality change started to become glaringly apparent. . . . Lute Olson has taken a lot of flack over the past few years, from myself included, but he had no control over a stroke and depression. Unfortunately, we had an AD who did not pay attention to warning signs or comments by people like Jim Rosborough, his lead assistant, and Christine Olson, his former wife, who kept saying they did not recognize that Lute Olson. BHEAD89

• There is no way any AD could have “stepped in” when Lute began displaying personality changes. You do realize that Lute had a far longer tenure, and a better reputation with the public than anyone else in the UA athletic department? What would have been the reaction of the public, of the Board of Regents, if Livengood had taken action against Lute based on his own medical “observations” rather than on any firm medical advice from qualified physicians? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but please try to be a little more realistic. RJW52

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