Jace Tavita will start at point guard against California following the injury to Luka Drca.
Dec. 8, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY - The University of Utah men's basketball team (5-2) returns to its home floor Wednesday to face the California Golden Bears (6-2) of the Pac-10 Conference. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. MT at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Both teams enter the game looking to bounce back from road losses. California fell at Missouri Saturday while Utah lost at Idaho State. Each squad has held a five-game winning streak during the season with Cal starting 5-0 before losing two of its last three. After dropping its season-opener, Utah won five straight before dropping Saturday's contest.
Wednesday's game marks the back end of a home-and-home series with Cal. Last year at Berkeley, the Runnin' Utes edged the Bears 67-65 on a jumper from forward Shaun Green (Salt Lake City) with one second left on the clock. The Bears had made a game-tying free throw with 38 seconds remaining, but Utah had the game's last possession and was able to convert the game-winning shot attempt.
On paper, the two squads are very comparable statistically, with Utah holding a slight edge in most categories. California tops the Utes in turnovers and rebounds per game, while shooting and defending the three-ball better.
Individually, senior center Luke Nevill (Perth, Australia) leads the Runnin' Utes with 18.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. His team-leading counterpart for California is junior guard Jerome Randle, scoring at a clip of 20.1 ppg. The Bears' leading rebounder is Jamal Boykin (6.1 rpg).
In the all-time series between the two teams, Utah holds an 8-7 edge, including a 5-2 home record, against the Bears. The last time they faced off at the Huntsman Center was in 1969, the same year that Utah's storied arena first opened its doors, as they split a pair of games on back-to-back days. Cal won the first meeting, taking an 86-80 decision on Dec. 29, but Utah earned the split on Dec. 30 with a 96-77 victory.