UCLA (18-6) at California (14-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (11,877) -- Berkeley, California. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UCLA 13-3, California 7-4. Away Record: UCLA 3-1, California 4-5. Neutral Record: UCLA 2-2, California 3-0. Conference Record: UCLA 8-3, California 6-5. Series Record: UCLA leads, 133-100.
GAME NOTES: The UCLA Bruins make the trip to the Bay Area this week for a pair of Pac-12 tilts, starting with Thursday night's showdown with the California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion. This game serves as the third-annual Pete Newell Classic.
Ben Howland's Bruins have had a successful campaign to this point, with an 18-6 overall record. The team has won two straight games entering this contest and is tied with Arizona atop the Pac-12 standings with an 8-3 league ledger. After narrowly escaping with a 59-57 win over Washington last Thursday, UCLA followed up with a 76-62 rout of Washington State two days later.
Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears are playing some of their best basketball of the season. California is 14-9 overall and 6-5 in-conference, but has won three of its last four games and enters this game off its most impressive win of the season, a stunning 77-69 road victory at then seventh-ranked Arizona. Prior to that, the Bears knocked off another of the conference-elite, topping nationally-ranked Oregon (58-54) to open play in February.
This marks the 234th all-time meeting between these two foes, with UCLA holding a 133-100 all-time advantage. The Bruins are seeking the regular- season sweep after posting a 79-65 victory in Los Angeles on Jan. 3.
The Bruins are vying for a conference crown thanks in large part to superior firepower. UCLA is shooting .464 from the floor, while ranking first in the Pac-12 in scoring at 76.0 ppg (28th nationally). The team is thriving despite three freshmen in the starting lineup. Of course, one of those youngsters is Shabazz Muhammad, who has certainly lived up to his billing, averaging 18.5 ppg (second in the conference). He has been aided by fellow freshman Jordan Adams (14.7 ppg), who is 10th in the league in scoring. Travis Wear (12.2 ppg) rounds out the top scoring threats and is aided in the frontcourt by freshman Kyle Anderson (9.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg). Larry Drew II isn't much of a scorer (6.5 ppg), but he does lead the Pac-12 in assists (7.9 apg).
UCLA won its eighth straight against Washington State thanks to a game-high 17 points from Muhammad. Adams was next in line with 14 points, while Anderson and Travis Wear helped out with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The team was able to overcome a 31-22 deficit in rebounding, by playing unselfish basketball, amassing 22 assists, led by a combined 15 from Anderson and Drew.
The Golden Bears are ignited by their dynamic duo of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. The pair were certainly instrumental in the upset win over Arizona last weekend, accounting for 52 points and shooting 65 percent from the floor together. Crabbe dropped in 19 of his 31 points in the second half, while Cobbs poured in 21. Behind the sharpshooting of Crabbe and Cobbs, California delivered on a hefty 58.8 percent from the floor against the Wildcats.
The offensive numbers are modest at best in terms of the entire team, with California averaging 68.2 ppg on .448 shooting. However, the Golden Bears usually have a puncher's chance against any opponent thanks to Crabbe and Cobbs. Crabbe leads the Pac-12 in scoring, shooting .483 overall and netting 19.8 ppg. Cobbs is 11th in the conference in scoring (14.6 ppg) and serves as the team's primary distributor as well (4.3 apg). The scoring pool dries up fast after that, with Richard Solomon ranking third on the team at just 8.0 ppg.
The Bruins have the better depth, but California is knocking off top-tier teams in the Pac-12 left and right. Add UCLA to the list this week, as Crabbe and Cobbs continue to shine.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 74, UCLA 71
02/14 10:32:01 ET