Earlier in the season, California looked like it could be another easy win for the Buffaloes. The Golden Bears hit a major bump in the road after dropping six straight games to teams like Washington State and Southern California.
Although the Buffs beat both of those teams by substantial numbers, Cal will come into the Keg on Thursday with renewed confidence following a four-game winning streak. And, after Saturday’s big loss to Utah at home, confidence may be a sore spot for this Colorado team right now.
On paper, it looks as though Cal will be a good test of the strength against the Buffaloes. While the Buffs lead the Bears slightly in points per game (67.8 to 66.6), their field goal percentages are identical (.439).
Not to mention, Cal has been a little more successful with their schedule this year. After playing a fairly tough non-conference schedule and an always challenging conference schedule, the Golden Bears currently sit at 15-9. Colorado and its somewhat softer schedule sit at an even 11-11.
For the first time in what seems like months, the Buffs should have every player at their disposal. Senior guard Askia Booker sat out last weekend’s competition and it didn’t go well to say the least. If he is able to play on Thursday, he’ll give the Buffs the offensive edge that they lacked against Utah.
The toughest obstacles the Buffs will have to face come in the form of California guards Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Matthews. Wallace, undoubtedly the team’s offensive leader, averages 17.4 points per game and grabs an impressive 7.9 rebounds a game. Ringing in at 6-foot-5, the defensive responsibility will probably fall into the hands of sophomore guard Jaron Hopkins.
Matthews, also a big offensive threat, contributes 14.8 points and 3.3 rebounds of his own. While he may not be a big defensive threat as far as rebounding goes, he’ll still be a main focus of Colorado’s defense. More than likely, Booker will take on that challenge.
After practice on Wednesday, Boyle stressed that ball screens and ball movement would be a big goal of improvement if they wish to win the game against Cal.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday night at the Coors Events Center.
Contact CU Independent Basketball Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.