Men's Hoops: Cats try to rise back up vs. Cal

By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 3, 2005

Bring on the west coast swing

The No. 14 UA men's basketball team takes on California tonight at 8:30 in McKale Center, a game in which they hope to rebound from perhaps their toughest loss of the season.

"After this weekend, we're just ready to go out there and play anybody," senior center Channing Frye said of the team's 70-63 home loss on Saturday to Washington State.

Cal (11-8, 4-5 Pacific 10 Conference) sits in a three-way tie for fourth place with ASU and Washington State . They have won three in a row, a streak that includes a win at UCLA and a sweep of the Oregon schools in Berkeley.

The Wildcats (17-4, 7-2) last faced Cal on Jan. 6 at Haas Pavilion, where the Wildcats won 87-67, despite 17 turnovers in the game. The Wildcats were down 42-40, 90 seconds into the second half, but went on a 21-6 run over the next six minutes to clinch the win.

Frye, who led all scorers with 20 points and added eight rebounds, said he believes Cal will try to take advantage of the Wildcats' loss to the Cougars, and will likely want to return the favor by defeating the UA on their home court.

"I think they kind of see us as vulnerable right now," he said. "I don't know if they think we're not going to be prepared, but I think they're going to come out here ready to get out and get a win."

Cal's two top scorers are guard Richard Midgley, with 14.8 points per game, and forward Rod Benson (13.3). Benson also leads the team in rebounds with 5.8 per game.

The Wildcats face Stanford at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Cardinals are one of two teams to defeat the UA in conference play this season.

The game will be aired on CBS.

Stanford (12-7, 6-3) is in second place in the Pac-10, just behind the UA and Washington, who are tied for first.

The Cardinals have a three-game winning streak over the Wildcats, dating back to last season when the Cardinals swept the season series.

On Jan. 8 in Palo Alto, Calif., Stanford defeated the Wildcats 87-86.

Frye led all Wildcat scorers with 20 points in this game, but the team got just three points from their bench players.

They gave up 29 points to guard-forward Dan Grunfeld, and 23 points to guard Chris Hernandez.

Stanford has not lost since they beat the UA, a span of five games, including a sweep of Oregon and Oregon State last weekend.

The team held a team-only meeting Monday, in which players had an opportunity to air out their concerns before the start of the second half of the conference schedule.

"I think that's a necessary thing every so often during the season," said Arizona head coach Lute Olson. "It's a case to where guys just have to express themselves and tell it like it is. It's a good idea to clear the air."

Senior guard Salim Stoudamire said the Cal and Stanford games are must-wins for the team, but so is every game for the rest of the season if they want to finish first in the Pac-10.

Stoudamire said that pressure is good for this team.

"I like that, because we come out focused every game," he said. "We can't relax anymore. If we want to be first we've got to win out."