Arizona basketball's chance for vengeance
No. 3-ranked Arizona men’s basketball gets a chance to avenge its first loss of the season when it hosts California tonight in McKale Center.
The game will be televised on ESPN2 and begins at 7 p.m.
In Arizona’s (25-2, 12-2 Pac-12) last showdown against the Golden Bears (18-9, 9-5 Pac-12), in Berkeley, Calif., Cal upset the then-No. 1 ranked team in the nation, 60-58, off a last-second buzzer-beater by senior guard Justin Cobbs.
“Cal played a terrific game against us the first time,” head coach Sean Miller said.
While Arizona holds a 55-30 advantage over Cal in the all-time series, the Wildcats have lost the past two contests against the Golden Bears. The UA is 4-3 against California in the Sean Miller era and has split the last 10 decisions down the middle, 5-5.
Junior forward David Kravish led Cal’s offensive attack and compiled 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and a steal against the Wildcats. He is averaging 11.4 points and 7.6 boards per game this season.
“When I vote for the All-Conference team, I put him on, because when you look at him he’s very understated as a player,” Miller said. “He’s the [No. 2] shot -blocker in Cal history. He’s a terrific defender who can guard mobile players and post players.”
Miller also said Kravish is a good offensive rebounder who can shoot the ball from the perimeter and score in the post.
“He’s a tough matchup,” Miller said. “Just look at his production. Game in and game out he shows up, and he’s been doing that his entire career.”
Senior forward Richard Solomon’s first half against Arizona was another big reason why the Golden Bears won. He added 12 points off 6-for-9 shooting from the field, grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals, two blocks and two assists.
“Playing them the first time was a reminder for us that their front court is both talented and experienced,” Miller said. “Solomon and Kravish, especially … we respect them a lot. They hurt us badly in the first game.”
According to Miller, the Golden Bears have five players who are scoring threats, two of whom are coming off of injuries.
Freshman guard Jabari Bird missed time because of an ankle injury. A 3-pointer by Bird helped secure the Bears’ 77-64 win over USC on Sunday.
Miller complimented junior guard Ricky Kreklow’s shooting; however, Kreklow missed the last game against the UA because of a hand injury.
Sophomore guard Tyrone Wallace contributed 11 points, four boards, two assists and a steal against Arizona during the last game the Wildcats played Cal.
Miller also praised Wallace.
“I’ll say the same thing about Tyrone Wallace as I did about Kravish,” Miller said. “He passes the ball extremely well, is a skilled player [and] got a lot of experience as a freshman last year.”
In addition to complimenting individual players, Miller also said the Golden Bears had strong plays in the last game.
“We respect Cal a lot,” Miller said. “[It’s] going to be a tough team to play.”
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17