Cal is right where many thought it would be before the season began and that is sitting atop the Pac-12 Conference.
Stanford is about where many thought it would be as well, fifth in the conference. But few thought the Cardinal would only be trailing Cal by one game entering the rivals’ first meeting of the season today in Berkeley.
Cal (16-5, 6-2 Pac-12) split its two games against Washington and Washington State last weekend, but its depth has continued to be an issue.
“We had depth issues to start with ... and when Richard [Solomon] became ineligible, that just put a lot of stress on the seams,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “You go with the next guy in line, you don’t really worry about the guys you don’t have.”
The sophomore forward Solomon was ruled academically ineligible following the fall semester.
The Golden Bears had four points off the bench in the loss to Washington State, but did get 20 off the bench — 16 from Robert Thurman — in the win at Washington.
On the flip side, Stanford (15-5, 5-3) got double-figure points off the bench in both of its losses last weekend.
“They’re deep, you’re never sure who’s going to have a big game,” Montgomery said. “They’ve got a lot of kids who can play.”
Part of Stanford’s depth has been the returning health of Dwight Powell’s ankle.
“We don’t like to make excuses, but the young man has gone through a lot with his ankle. He’s just now starting to round into form,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said.
Powell had 10 points and six rebounds on Jan. 22 against Washington and had one of his better games last season against the Bears. He finished with 20 points and seven rebounds in that contest.
Cal’s offense has been difficult to slow down at times this season, and Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs have been big reasons for that.
Cobbs is shooting 50 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3-point range. Crabbe has also been extremely effective from distance, shooting 44 percent.
“They’re going to execute very well offensively,” Dawkins said. “They’re a very good defensive team. They just play sound basketball. You’re going to have to be alert defensively for the entire possession every time down.”
Stanford has lost consecutive games for the first time this season. Cal has yet to lose consecutive games.
Cal and Stanford split their two meetings a year ago, but the Bears have won four of the last five meetings.
WHEN: Today, 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley
TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
RADIO: KTCT (1050 AM), KNEW (910 AM)