Arizona Basketball

Top three storylines of Arizona Wildcats at Cal Golden Bears

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Kaleb Tarczewski  will be challenged in the paint by Cal's David Kravish (YouTube screen shot)

Kaleb Tarczewski will be challenged in the paint by Cal’s David Kravish (YouTube screen shot)

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WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

TOP 5 PRODUCTIVITY LEADERS EACH TEAM
*Starters.
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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Where’s Arizona’s motivation after Cal’s 35-point loss to ASU?

The Golden Bears had the worst performance of any Pac-12 team this season in their 79-44 loss Thursday at home against ASU, a team Arizona dismantled 73-49 only 16 days previously in Tucson.

Cal, under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, is on a five-game losing streak after starting 11-3, including a win over Syracuse and Jim Boeheim. The Golden Bears are in last place in the Pac-12 with a 1-5 record, which includes a 14-point loss against hapless USC on Jan. 7. Cal has lost five of its last six games at Haas Pavilion.

Arizona coach Sean Miller’s credo with his team is following the process. He stresses that Arizona’s top priority is Arizona. With that in mind, the Wildcats ought to be prepared for a Cal team that has defeated two ranked teams (No. 21 Washington and No. 23 Syracuse), right?

Motivation for Arizona:

Brandon Ashley is returning home to the Berkeley-area after playing most of his high school ball in Oakland. He should play inspired especially after what happened last year when he was lost with a foot injury in the first couple of minutes of the game at Cal.

— Last year’s loss — the first for Arizona after a 21-0 start — as the No. 1-ranked team at Cal should be playing in the minds of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell, Kaleb Tarczewski, etc.

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NO. 7 ARIZONA (17-2, 5-1) AT CAL (11-8, 1-5)
Tip Time: 8:36 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Tim Robinson/Don MacLean)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Corey Walton)
THE SERIES
Overall: Arizona leads, 56-30
In Berkeley: Arizona leads, 21-17
Current Streak: Arizona won 1
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 87-59, on Feb. 26, 2014
Sean Miller vs. California: 5-3

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HOW ARE THEY DOING?
Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.
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— Another win would give Arizona four consecutive victories with home games against Oregon and Oregon State next Wednesday and Friday, respectively. The Wildcats are in position to enter the second half of the conference season on top of the standings. The train must keep steaming ahead without getting off track against a Cal team with an RPI rating of No. 120. A loss would certainly derail the Wildcats from a potential No. 1 seed.

No. 2 First-year conference coaches have little success against Arizona.

Only two of the present Pac-12 coaches have posted a victory against Arizona in their first season in the league. Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle is one of them this season. The other was Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins, who has yet to beat Arizona since winning the first meeting on Jan. 4, 2009, against a team coached by interim coach Russ Pennell.

Martin will try to make it three today, although the odds are stacked against him. Arizona is a 12-point favorite against the struggling Golden Bears.

The present Pac-12 coaches are a combined 2-13 in regular-season games against the Wildcats in their first season in the conference. Tad Boyle’s 1-1 record in 2011-12 — Colorado’s first season in the Pac-12 — does not count because that was his second season with the Buffaloes.

If Martin gets swept this season at least he has company.

ASU’s Herb Sendek, Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak, Oregon’s Dana Altman, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar and Ernie Kent (in his first season with Oregon in 1997-98) went 0-2 against the Wildcats to start their careers in the league.

UCLA’s Steve Alford and USC’s Andy Enfield lost their first Pac-12 meeting with Arizona last season.

Miller was swept by only Washington State and Oregon State in his first season with the Wildcats in 2009-10. Since then, he is 7-0 against the Cougars and 7-2 against the Beavers.

No. 3 Cal’s David Kravish a good test for Kaleb Tarczewski.

Kravish, a 6’10” and 240-pound senior who it seems has played for Cal for about 10 years, will provide a good physical test for Arizona big man Kaleb Tarczewski. The junior center will not play against a more active player at the post this season.

Did you know? … Kravish has something in common with former Arizona centers Channing Frye and Anthony Cook?

Kravish is one of four individuals in Pac-12 history, with Cook (1986-89) and Frye (2002-05) and USC’s Taj Gibson (2007-09), to record at least 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 200 blocks in a career.

He enters tonight’s game with 1,094 points, 816 rebounds and 206 blocks. He is just one block shy of tying Michael
Stewart’s
school record of 207 blocks from 1994-97.

The key for Arizona is for Tarczewski to avoid foul trouble once again. The 7’0″, 240-pound player has the body to bang against Kravish. If he must sit a prolonged period of time because of fouls, the only other Arizona player to match Kravish’s size is Matt Korcheck (6’10” and 235).

If Ashley (a slender 6’9″ and 235 pounds) is ever matched against Kravish, he must play his most physical game of the season.

Something to keep an eye on: Tarczewki’s 12 career foul-outs ties for the most by an Arizona player in the Pac-10/12 era. He had four fouls at Stanford on Thursday, although one was a ticky-tack call that should not have been called. The refs seem to never give Tarczewski the benefit of the doubt.

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PAC-12 RPI RATING
Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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