California (9-4) at Stanford (9-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 2, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maples Pavilion (7,233) -- Stanford, California. Television: FS1. Home Record: California 8-0, Stanford 6-1. Away Record: California 0-2, Stanford 2-0. Neutral Record: California 1-2, Stanford 1-2. Conference Record: California 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Series Record: California leads, 143-116.
GAME NOTES: Local rivals square off on Thursday, as the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal open Pac-12 Conference play at Maples Pavilion.
California rolled to a 90-60 victory over Furman in its final non-league test last Saturday. The victory was the third in the last four games for the Golden Bears, who have lost their only two true road tests. Last year, Cal finished the season in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-12, with a league ledger of 12-6. The Golden Bears visit No. 12 Oregon next.
Stanford bounced back from a difficult, 68-65, loss to Michigan during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational with a 79-62 triumph over Cal Poly this past Sunday. The Cardinal is 9-3 overall this season, including a 6-1 mark at home. The squad was a modest 9-9 against Pac-12 competition last season and faces Oregon State next.
There have been 259 previous meetings between these two rivals, with California leading the series, 143-116. However, Stanford claimed victory in both matchups last season.
Five players scored in double figures, including Richard Solomon, who scored 10 points and collected 12 rebounds to push California past Furman last time out. The Golden Bears shot 60.7 percent from the floor, including a 10-of-21 effort from 3-point range.
Spreading out the offensive production has been a real strength for Cal this season. Justin Cobbs (14.2 ppg, 6 apg) leads five double-digit scorers for the Golden Bears, and he has also proven to be a reliable performer in terms of distributing the ball. Solomon (11.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg) is a double-double waiting to happen, and David Kravish (11.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg) teams with him to give the Golden Bears a formidable frontcourt pairing. Unfortunately, Jabari Bird (11.3 ppg) was sidelined in the last game with a sprained ankle. He is not expected to play on Thursday, which is bad news considering that despite having a number of scoring threats, Cal is next-to-last in the Pac-12 in scoring (74.6 ppg).
Chasson Randle and Stefan Nastic each scored 20 points and Dwight Powell (15 points, eight rebounds) and Josh Huestis (10 points, nine rebounds) each flirted with double-doubles in Stanford's recent win over Cal Poly. The Cardinal connected on 58.1 percent of their total shots, while limiting the Mustangs to 35.4 percent.
Randle (18.7 ppg) has consistently been at the top of the stat sheet for the Cardinal in terms of scoring, as he has reached double figures in all but one game this season, and has had at least 20 points in five contests. Powell (14.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Huestis (11.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg) provide Stanford with an answer for Solomon and Kravish in the frontcourt. Anthony Brown (13.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is a strong rebounder out of the backcourt, and a reliable scorer as well. Stanford is scoring 77.8 ppg and shooting 49.2 percent from the floor, ranking fifth in the league, but 24th nationally.
At full strength, the Golden Bears match up very well with the Cardinal, so not having Bird yet again will put them at an even greater disadvantage than simply playing a conference foe on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stanford 75, California 67
01/02 10:34:47 ET