First look: UCLA vs. Cal basketball

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
8:37
PM PT
What: California Golden Bears (8-4) at UCLA Bruins (9-3)

When: Thursday, 8 p.m. PT

Where: Pauley Pavilion

TV: Fox Sports Net

Radio: AM 570

Scouting the Bruins: UCLA is on a season-long five-game winning streak and is coming off its most impressive performance of the season in a 97-94 overtime victory over then-No. 7 Missouri. The Bruins are getting it done on the offensive end, averaging 93 points per game over the past four. The Bruins enter Pac-12 play leading the conference in scoring at 80.9 points per game and in field goal percentage at 48.6 percent. Defensively, they are at the other end of the spectrum, however, as they are last in the conference in scoring defense (69.5 points per game) and 11th in field goal percentage defense (41.9). Shabazz Muhammad will take the court for his first conference game fresh off a buzz-worthy 27-point performance against Missouri that earned him conference and national player of the week honors. He is averaging a team-best 19.6 points per game and has 21 or more in the past four games as he begins to show why he was touted as the top offensive player out of high school last year. Travis and David Wear also had good games against Missouri, combining for 38 points on 18-of-27 shooting and 15 rebounds. It was the highest combined point total of their careers.

Scouting the Golden Bears: California begins conference play having lost four of its past six games, including a 67-62 setback to Harvard in its previous game. The Golden Bears began the season with six consecutive victories in November, but a difficult December schedule that included losses to No. 18 UNLV and No. 13 Creighton slowed the momentum. Guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs are among the top backcourt players in the conference and are averaging a combined 37.3 points per game -- more than half of the 71.5 Cal is averaging as a team. Crabbe leads all Pac-12 players with 20.9 points per game. Forwards David Kravish (6-foot-9) and Richard Solomon (6-10) provide plenty of inside size and have helped Cal average 40.2 rebounds per game -- third in the conference. The Golden Bears, under coach Mike Montgomery, are giving up 65.2 points per game. They are 1-1 in road games.

The series: UCLA leads the series 133-99, although Cal swept UCLA last season with an 85-69 victory at home and a 73-63 victory at the Sports Arena. UCLA is 68-48 all-time against California at Pauley.

Quick quote: "It's a whole new season," UCLA coach Ben Howland said about starting Pac-12 Conference play. "Whatever has happened up 'til now is all for experience."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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