Colorado (21-9) at California (18-12)

The Sports NetworkMarch 8, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The scuffling California Golden Bears have one more chance in the regular season, as they host the Colorado Buffaloes in a Pac-12 Conference tilt at Haas Pavilion on Saturday.

A few weeks ago, California appeared to be a team destined for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Golden Bears have lost four of their last five games, including the last three to fall to 18-12 overall and 9-8 in league play. They are tied with Oregon, Utah and Stanford for fifth place in the Pac-12 standings. All four teams are in action on Saturday, providing plenty of drama to the end of the campaign.

What Colorado has managed to do this season is rather impressive. Despite losing leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg) in mid-January to an injury, the Buffaloes have kept themselves alive not only in the Pac-12 title chase, but the race for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They earned a critical 59-56 win at Stanford on Wednesday to improve to 21-9 overall and 10-7 in league play. Should Arizona State, which is also 10-7 in conference, lose on Saturday and Colorado win, the Buffs would claim the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament.

This is the first and only scheduled meeting of the season between these two squads. Last season, they split two matchups, but Colorado has won six of the last eight overall to tie the all-time series at 11 wins apiece.

Josh Scott finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Xavier Johnson netted 14, although on just 5-of-16 shooting, as Colorado pushed past Stanford. The Buffaloes owned a 39-31 advantage on the glass and held the hosting Cardinal to just 36.8 percent shooting.

The defensive end of the floor has been where Colorado has been strongest this season. The Buffaloes are only letting up 69 ppg on 43.2 percent shooting. Such efforts have made up for their meager offensive production, as they are 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring (72.8 ppg) and field goal percentage (.442). Scott (14.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) has taken over as the team's top scoring threat since Dinwiddie's departure. Askia Booker (13.8 ppg) and Johnson (11.8 ppg) are also counted on, but Booker only shoots at a 38.7 percent clip, while Johnson is most useful as a complementary contributor.

Despite another strong double-double from Richard Solomon (19 points, 14 rebounds), Cal lost a puzzling 63-59 decision to Utah last time out. The Golden Bears connected on just 39.1 percent from the floor and had more than twice as many turnovers (13) as the Utes (six), who entered the game with a single road win.

Like Colorado, California has not been overly impressive at the offensive end. The Golden Bears are netting just 73.1 ppg, which is good only for ninth place in the Pac-12. They have done so while shooting a solid 45.6 percent from the field. Justin Cobbs (15.4 ppg, 5.8 apg) leads the way for the squad as the top scorer and playmaker. He did hand out seven assists against Utah, but finished with only six points on 2-of-6 shooting from the floor. Tyrone Wallace (11.5 ppg), David Kravish (11.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2 bpg) and Solomon (11.1 ppg, 10 rpg) are all important pieces of the puzzle.

Cal's recent slide has been discouraging for a team with a solid core of talent that makes them a tough out nearly every night. Colorado still has a lot to play for and will give the Golden Bears all they can handle. If Cobbs bounces back and gets the support of Wallace, Kravish and Solomon, California should be able to pull out the win.

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