Arizona Basketball: CAL/Oregon game previews

The Arizona basketball team could afford to shoot 36% from the field when they held Stanford scoreless for almost nine minutes in the second half. A three pointer by Nick Johnson with 51 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in the game.

After squeezing out a 60-57 win Wednesday night in Palo Alto, the Wildcats inner conference play looks to ramp up with upcoming games against CAL and Oregon.  With Arizona’s recent trend of playing down to their opposition, both teams pose significant obstacles for the top-ranked Wildcats.

What to Look For

@CAL, Feb. 1, 10:30 PM ET: After winning their first five games in Pac-12 play, the Golden Bears have lost their last three contests. Arizona should look to capitalize on Cal’s most recent hardships. At the same time, Arizona must prepare for the Bears to bring their best, as every team has their sights set on dethroning the Wildcats. If you don’t know much about CAL’s team this season, here are a few players to key in on during the game.

Justin Cobbs #1, Guard, 6-foot-3 190 pounds: Nick Johnson and TJ McConnell will have their hands full with senior standout Justin Cobbs. The speedy point guard flourishes during fast break possessions, using his athleticism and strength to convert layups through contact. Cobbs is without a doubt a leader for the Golden Bears. The Wildcats have to make it their objective to disrupt the fluid play of Cobbs, who dropped 20 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in a 96-83 win against the then #17 ranked Oregon Ducks earlier this season. Taking Cobbs out of the game will be crucial for Arizona if they plan on leaving the Bay Area unscathed this weekend.

Richard Solomon #35, Forward/Center, 6-foot-10 235 pounds: In his senior season, Solomon has proved to be a force down low for the Golden Bears. During the 14 games that CAL has won this season, Solomon has averaged 11.93 points and 10.5 rebounds. His work on the boards and in the post is vital to the Golden Bears’ success.  Not only is Solomon a force in the paint, he is also efficient, shooting 58% from the field. It will be key for Arizona’s center Kaleb Tarczewski to impose his will against Solomon in the post, as his size poses a mismatch for the Bears down low.

Prediction: Arizona 70 vs. CAL 55

Vs. Oregon, Feb. 6, 9:00 PM ET: Oregon’s high-octane offense has not faired well in conference play, going 2-6 against Pac-12 teams. Averaging 85.1 points per game, 4th best amongst all college basketball teams, the Ducks will put Arizona’s elite defense to the test. Here are a few important Ducks to watch for in the upcoming game.

Joseph Young #3, Guard, 6-foot-2 185  pounds: Young is a volume scorer who can shoot the lights out on any given day. He thrives off drawing fouls and making it to the free throw line, shooting 88% from the charity stripe. In his first season with Oregon since transferring from University of Houston, Young is averaging 18 points per game on 49% from the field. Keeping Young away from the foul line and below 20 points will improve Arizona’s chances this Thursday.

Mike Moser #0, Forward, 6-foot-8 211 pounds: After transferring from UCLA to UNLV, Moser has finally decided to come home to the Oregon Ducks for his senior season. Moser is quite the versatile player, as he can score, rebound and play tough defense. Moser’s biggest downfall is that he needs to shoot a lot in order to be a sufficient scorer. While Moser is shooting a par 46% this season, he has a tendency to chuck the ball up there, averaging 11 shots a game. If Arizona can force Moser to take bad shots, they will limit his influence on the offensive end. Even though he is averaging 13 points per game, Moser hasn’t scored more than 10 points in his last four outings, three of which Oregon has lost.

Jason Calliste #12, Guard, 6-foot-2 171 pounds:  Calliste is another player that decided to transfer to Oregon for his senior season. Calliste is an amazing shooter, recording 53% from the field and 54% behind the arc. Calliste has been on a tear as of late, averaging 16.2 points in the last five games. Due to his deadeye shooting ability, it will be important for the Wildcats to close out on Calliste in big game situations.

Prediction: Arizona 80 vs. Oregon 68