Arizona Wildcats vs. California Golden Bears Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 1st 2024

Caleb Love is on a hot streak as No. 11 Arizona looks to complete a season sweep of California when the teams play Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12) had an easy time against the Bears (8-12, 4-5) in each team’s conference opener on Dec. 29 in Berkeley, Calif. Arizona never trailed and delivered an early knockout, leading by as many as 31 points in the first half en route to a 100-81 victory.

Love scored 22 points that night and hasn’t cooled down. The senior transfer from North Carolina is coming off a career-high 36-point effort in an 87-78 win at Oregon on Saturday.

“I just try to play within the offense, let my teammates create for me,” Love said. “I give my credit to them.”

While the Wildcats relied on balanced scoring early in the season, spending two weeks at No. 1 in the polls in December, they have come to depend on Love for their big shots.

He was 12 of 18, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, on Saturday as Arizona won a key game that allowed it to move into a first-place tie with the Ducks in the Pac-12.

Love is averaging 19.3 points for the season. Pelle Larsson is next at 12.8 points. Love has taken 292 shots — 111 more than any of his teammates.

Coach Tommy Lloyd praised his team’s complete effort against Oregon, which came two days after an 83-80 loss at last-place Oregon State.

“Our attention to detail and effort and energy was high-level,” Lloyd said. “I feel like it was maybe the best all-around game we played all year.”

Cal enters the week on a two-game winning streak, against Washington State (81-75 in overtime on Jan. 20) and Stanford (73-71 on Friday), both at home. The Bears were able to win that latter game by committing no turnovers in the final 13:18 of the game and overcoming an injury to star Jaylon Tyson.

“Early in the season, we would turn the ball over too much,” coach Mark Madsen said.

“It wasn’t giving us a chance on offense, and it was creating a few too many live-ball turnovers when teams were going down scoring an uncontested basket. So, our guys have really locked in on that, where they’re policing each other. A player-led team is the best team you can have.”

Tyson, who is averaging a Pac-12-best 20.6 points for all games, had to leave the Stanford game with about six minutes remaining due to a leg injury. There was no update on his status as of Monday night.

The Bears saw six players score in double-figure points against the Cardinal. Fardaws Aimaq is second on the team in scoring at 15.3, followed by Jalen Cone at 14.2.

Tyson had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting against Arizona, which has won 14 consecutive games in the series, including 11 in a row by double digits.

–Field Level Media

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