The Oregon Ducks, coming off their first Pac-12 defeat of the season in a humbling blowout loss at Stanford, return to the floor Saturday as they face the California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. I'm not going to rehash the debacle in Palo Alto, I'll just say that Oregon had 19 turnovers and four assists, which is never going to cut it against anybody. This team misses Dominic Artis badly, and if Johnathan Loyd and Willie Moore can't take better care of the basketball, it's going to be awfully hard for Oregon to win.
That said, it was a big confluence of events that led to that loss. The Oregon bigs, who had been the best in the conference up until last week, aren't going to be completely useless again. While I have questions about the Oregon offense, the defense and rebounding problems were effort things, and I can't imagine that they come into this game without a fire under their rears.
Coming into the season, I thought Cal would be the only sure thing in the conference, because I thought they would have the best guard play in the conference with Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. They've certainly lived up to their billing, with Crabbe averaging a league-best 19.8 ppg and Cobbs 14.7. However, that is almost the entirety of the scoring on this team which has little front-court scoring punch, and zero depth. Crabbe and Cobbs both play 36 minutes a game, and Cal routinely plays only six guys. If Oregon can get the press working, push the tempo, and pound on guys low as they'd been accustomed to before Wednesday, its going to be hard for Cal to have the energy late. The advanced stats don't help Cal's cause: 9th in both offensive AND defensive efficiency, 7th in rebounding, 11th in turnovers forced. As long as the Ducks come out with energy and don't turn the ball over, they are the better team. But, if Cal does get the win here, Oregon's lead in the conference shrinks down to only the tiebreaker, and it's time to press the panic button.
1:30 p.m. PT
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