Two teams seemingly headed in different directions meet when UCLA and Cal open Pac-12 Confernce play against one another today.
After starting the season 6-0, Cal has lost four of its last six games. The Bears are coming off a demoralizing 67-62 loss to Harvard on Saturday, and have been bit by the injury bug in recent weeks.
The Bears (8-4) were down three players against Harvard, but they could get two of them back in time for the conference opener. Senior guard Brandon Smith missed the game with a concussion, and sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow missed his eighth game with an injured ankle. Both will be game-time decisions against UCLA.
Sophomore forward Christian Behrens tore his ACL last week and is out for the season.
Junior guard Allen Crabbe leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 20.9 points, but has been playing nearly 40 minutes every game and figures to wear down eventually. Justin Cobbs averages 16.4 points, but the Bears will need more scorers to produce in order to contend for the Pac-12 title.
On the flipside, the Bruins (10-3) have won five in a row, including a 97-94 overtime victory over then-No. 7 Missouri on Friday.
UCLA freshman wing Shabazz Muhammad was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after scoring a season-high-tying 27 points against Missouri, and has scored in double figures in all 10 games played since being activated Nov. 19.
The Bruins look to build on their first win over a nonconference team ranked in the top 10 since Nov. 20, 2007 with a sharp effort against the Bears.
Junior forward Travis Wear, who averages 11 points and 6.6 rebounds, scored a career-high 22 points against Missouri.
UCLA went 0-2 against Cal last season, but the Bruins appear to have the edge this time.
Freshman guard Jordan Adams has scored at least 20 points in seven games, although he was 4-for-13 shooting against Missouri. The Bruins lead the conference in field goal percentage at 48.6, and are averaging a Pac-12-best 18.5 assists.
The Bruins lead the conference in scoring at 80.9 points, while Cal averages 71.5.