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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 24, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: California 5-4. Utah 7-4. Away Record: California 2-3, Utah 2-5. Neutral Record: California 3-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: California 2-3, Illinois State 1-4. Series Record: California leads, 11-8.
GAMES NOTES: Coming off their first win in conference play the Utah Utes will try to build a winning streak when they host the California Golden Bears in a Pac-12 conference clash at the Huntsman Center.
California was not so lucky last time out. The Golden Bears were topped 69-59 in the first contest of their current three-game homestand against Stanford. The loss dropped California below .500 in league play (2-3) and to 10-7 overall on the campaign. The loss was also the third in five road chances for the Golden Bears who finish up their current trip on Sunday against Colorado.
As for Utah, the Utes knocked off Washington 74-65 to earn their first win against league competition this season. The win, which ended a five-game losing streak, also enabled the Utes to move back to .500 overall (9-9). In contests at the Huntsman Center, Utah has managed to post a 7-4 mark, though in two tilts against Pac-12 foes the Utes have come up short. This is the first matchup of three straight at home for Utah which hosts Stanford next.
The Golden Bears have won three straight meetings with Utah, including a 60-56 triumph when they met as conference foes for the first time last season. The winning streak has pushed California to an 11-8 lead in the all-time series.
Despite the efforts of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, who scored 23 of the Golden Bears' 30 points in the second half, the Golden Bears could not get past Stanford. In the game California was outrebounded (39-34) for just the fourth time this season.
Crabbe (19.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Cobbs (14.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.1 apg) have been carrying the Golden Bears all season. Crabbe has used his 6-foot-6 frame to feast on smaller backcourts en route to leading the conference in scoring. Cobbs provides a bit more versatility with his ability to score, rebound and distribute. David Kravish (8.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is a capable complement in the frontcourt as he proved against Stanford when he tied for a team-high 14 points.
The win over Washington was also the first victory on the road for Utah against a Pac-12 team since joining the conference last season. The Utes shot at a 60 percent clip in the contest, which was their best output in Pac-12 play since a 51 percent efforts last season against Stanford.
As a team, Utah is scoring only 66.4 points per game this season, while failing to reach above 60 in three of its previous four conference contests. UItah has managed to compete, including single digit losses to No. 6 Arizona and UCLA, by putting forth strong effort on defense. Utah is giving up only 59.7 points per game on the eighth-lowest field goal percentage (.372) in the conference. In the frontcourt Jordan Loveridge (12.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Jason WAshburn (11.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg) have been effective scorers, especially Washburn who is second in the conference in field-goal percentage (.613). Jarred DuBois (12.5 ppg, 3.4 apg) is another double-figure scoring threat.
On paper this game would seem to favor California with their more explosive offensive duo, but Utah has played well enough defensively, especially at home, against some of the top teams in the conference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 68, California 65
01/24 10:35:31 ET