Game Preview: UW at Cal (game #24)


Who: Washington Huskies (6-5, 16-7 overall) at Cal Bears (7-4, 15-8 overall)

When: Thursday, 6:00 PM

Where: Haas Pavilion

How to Watch: ESPN2

Huskies 101: UW has won four straight, and six of its last eight games. The margin of victory for the Huskies during that stretch is over 25 points.

This is game #4 of the Huskies’ “Ten and Your In” portion of the season. The task is no easy feat, but it’s nearly impossible to argue that the Huskies wouldn’t earn an NCAA bid — conference champs or not — if they can win the final ten games on their Pac-10 schedule. So far, so good.

The Huskies have not won outside of Hec Ed all season. A pair of wins in the Bay Area would likely change the Huskies’ perception in the national media from “out of the tournament” to “on the bubble.”

Since Cal is in first place at 7-4, and the Huskies are one of five teams in second at 6-5, this game gives the Dawgs the opportunity to earn a share of the conference lead.

Quincy Pondexter has played out of his mind during this four-game winning streak, averaging 25.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2 assists, and shooting 61% from the field.

Projected lineup: G – Abdul Gaddy, G – Isaiah Thomas, F – Justin Holiday, F – Quincy Pondexter, F – Tyreese Breshers

Last time out: The Huskies dominated Cal at Hec Ed, 84-69. Quincy Pondexter has 25, and Isaiah scored 20. Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a quietly efficient game with 10 points, seven rebounds, and a not-so-quiet blocked shot that wound up on Sportscenter.

UW held a 19-point halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way on a day when Cal’s “big three” of Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson, and Patrick Christopher, were simply a “big one.” Christopher scored 28, but no other Bear made an impact on the game

Bears 101: Cal has lost two of their last three, all on the road, and try to keep their hold on first place in the conference.

Jerome Randle (19.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) leads the way for the Bears, who also get double-figure scoring from Patrick Christopher (16.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Theo Robertson (14.2 ppg, 45.5% 3-pt. FG), and Jamal Boykin (11 ppg, 6.2 rpg).

Last time the teams played, guard Jorge Gutierrez, one of the Pac-10’s best defenders, was out. This time, the Dawgs will not be so lucky.

Projected lineup: G – Jerome Randle, G – Jorge Gutierrez, G – Patrick Christopher, F – Theo Robertson, F – Jamal Boykin

The Huskies will win if: The Dawgs will win the game if they can somehow, some way, conjur up the level of energy on the defensive end that they have in spades at home, but never on the road. It’s clear that this is a team driven by turnovers and running off of missed shots. Can they make it happen in Berkeley?

The Dawgs will win if they can get some outside shooting (paging Scott Suggs) and open the game up for Quincy Pondexter to work inside and Isaiah Thomas to penetrate.

The Huskies will lose if: They forget to try to get their big men going. Cal is now starting four players 6’6″ and under and a wily-but-not-tough center, Boykin. MBA was effective last time, and he and Tyreese Breshers should not be left out of the offensive gameplanning.

The Huskies will lose if Cal plays its best game. I hate to say it, but I think we’re at a point with this Husky team that we’ve gotta hope for a little bit of luck. I’ve seen nothing to say we can beat a good team on its home floor unless it has an off night. It’s noble to hope for the Huskies to beat Cal at their best, but I’ll settle for just escaping with a win.

A humble suggestion: Abdul Gaddy has had an up-and-down freshman season, and it’s clear now that he’s going to be a sophomore before we see more progress out of the talented point guard. I’m cool with Gaddy starting, but once Venoy checks in, let’s have Overton and Isaiah handle the point guard duties, leaving more minutes for shooting (Scott Suggs, Elston Turner) or defense (Justin Holiday, Darnell Gant). Personally, I don’t need to see Gaddy late in games anymore during this critical stretch of the season.

Prediction: I want so badly to pick the Huskies that I’m afraid my heart (and my fingers) won’t let me type what I really believe is going to happen.

The way we played against Cal at Hec Ed, we could’ve beaten anyone in the country. But, we haven’t seen those Huskies out on the road all year. The Dawgs will come out pumped, but they’ll be playing a good Cal team that’s only lost once at home all year.

Cal wins a heartbreaker, 83-80. The Huskies pull off the upset and win, 79-73. (See, I couldn’t do it!)

Thanks for coming!