Stanford will look to hand its rival across the Bay its first home loss of the season when the Cardinal (11-9, 4-5 Pac-12) face off against California (14-8, 4-5) this Saturday.
The Cardinal are hoping to avoid three consecutive losses for the second time this season during their last contest in a three-game road trip. Stanford had little success in its trip to the mountains, falling to Colorado and Utah by 16 and 22 points, respectively. Utah’s 96 points are the most the Cardinal have conceded all season in an otherwise stout defensive campaign.
Stanford, however, has fared better against the Golden Bears in recent years. The Card have won the last four meetings against Cal, including the last three games at Haas Pavilion dating back to 2012. In the teams’ previous meeting this season, Stanford edged out Cal 77-71 behind big games from Marcus Allen and Rosco Allen.
Rosco posted a double-double in that last outing with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, Marcus sank 12 of his season-high 16 free-throw attempts, scoring 10 of his 16 total points over the final six minutes of the game to help Stanford seal a victory despite a late push by Cal.
Both players have been critical in an up-and-down season for Stanford. Stanford’s offense has a tendency of stalling out for long stretches in games, particularly in the second half of games. When that happens, Rosco’s ability to space the floor and command double teams has been crucial in opening up driving lanes for the rest of the Cardinal. Allen is indisputably playing the best ball of his career, averaging 17.9 points per game over his last seven outings.
Stanford will certainly lean on its most consistent player against a ferocious, blitzing Cal defense. The Golden Bears lead the Pac-12 in field goal defense by holding opponents to 38.8 percent shooting. Cal, however, is even stingier at home, surrendering only 62.1 points per game on 36.3 percent shooting.
With a roster full of size and long-limbed athletes, Cal’s 4-5 conference record falls short of reflecting the full depth and talent of this squad. Even after losing senior guard Tyrone Wallace, the Golden Bears’ most productive player, Cal has remained competitive in a fierce Pac-12 conference.
The freshman duo of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb are a big reason why Cal can continue to thrive without its most productive player. The frontcourt tandem has become one of the most prolific duos in the conference, averaging 28.3 total points per game and 13.9 rebounds thus far in the season.
Brown has exploded onto the scene since the start of Pac-12 play, dropping 17.7 points per game on 53 percent shooting from the floor. A poised and efficient scorer, Brown posted 27 points against Utah last weekend and proceeded to drop another 21 in Cal’s last game against Colorado.
Wallace is out another two to four weeks after suffering a broken hand in practice on Jan. 16 and will not be available for the rivalry game.
Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.