Coming off a sweep of the Washington schools, the Oregon Ducks (10-3) return to Matthew Knight Arena to face the California Golden Bears (8-5). Cal defeated Oregon, 58-54, in Berkeley earlier this season, and the Ducks have not beaten Cal during Dana Altman's tenure as head coach.
Oregon actually led for most of that second half in Berkeley, but was held scoreless over the last four minutes while Cal pulled off the comeback. It would be the same story in the loss to Colorado the following week. With the exception of the Stanford game, which was just a total dog of a game, the Ducks should have won all of the games without Dominic Artis despite the turnover issues (and they had 22 against Cal earlier this month).
Oregon's style will keep them in games. We saw that against Washington State, where a spectacularly bad first half still had them in striking distance, and they found a way to win. Oregon figured out how to keep the turnovers down against the Washington schools, a good trend if it continues. However, the frustrating thing about that Cal loss was that Oregon lost despite the fact that Allen Crabbe scored only 13 points, and Justin Cobbs only 8. Cal won that game because they inexplicably won the battle of the bigs. Cal is a middle-of-the-conference rebounding team (7th in rebounding percentage), but they outrebounded the Ducks, 31-30, while Richard Solomon and David Kravish combined for 20 boards. Scoring showed the same trend: while Crabbe and Cobbs were shut down, and Cal as a whole shot only 35%, Solomon and Tyrone Wallace combined for 25 points.
The Bears have won five of six and are the hottest team in the conference. Crabbe has been absolutely on fire during that stretch, and you have to count on him getting his. For Oregon to win at home, this will come down to two things. Oregon must keep the turnovers at a manageable level as they did against the Washington schools. Cal put up 17 more shots than the Ducks did last game, and you simply cannot win with those numbers. The second is that Tony Woods, Arsalan Kazemi and Co. have to shut Solomon and Kravish down completely. They must win the scoring and rebounding battles down low decisively, as the statistics suggest that they should.
Time: 6:00 p.m. PT