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Cal braces for No. 4 Arizona

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ANITA LIU | STAFF

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DECEMBER 02, 2022

Cal fans — brace for impact. After losing eight consecutive games to open their season, the Bears are hurling toward what may be their heaviest defeat yet.

Cal will travel to Tucson to face No. 4 Arizona on Sunday. The Wildcats have established themselves among the royalty of college hoops — they are currently undefeated and coming off a successful 2021-2022 regular season that earned them a No. 1 seed at the NCAA tournament. The blue and gold, meanwhile, are 0-8 on the season — the worst start ever to a college basketball season by a Power 5 team. Cal sits at the bottommost rung of Division 1 basketball.

“We need to regroup,” head coach Mark Fox said. “Arizona’s got a great team and a great atmosphere. We haven’t played well yet — we have had moments where we’ve played well, but we haven’t had near a full 40 minutes. It’ll be a challenge for us”

There is no doubt that Sunday’s game will be a challenge, and that may be putting it lightly. Conference play looked like an inordinately tall task after Cal’s defeats to UC Davis, UCSD and Texas State: Now having suffered a 66-51 blowout in the Pac-12 opener against unranked USC, these fears have been confirmed. Arizona, a well-oiled machine that has churned out multiple 20+ point wins this season, knows exactly how to lay waste to inferior teams like Cal.

Amongst the Wildcats’ deep, talented ranks is Azuolas Tubelas, their biggest scoring threat and a matchup nightmare for opponents. The junior forward was an all-Pac 12 first teamer last year and is averaging 19.3 points per game this season. He is 6’11” but an expert ball handler and playmaker — the Lithuanian’s athleticism and size poses unique problems down low and on the wings.

It is precisely this quality of player that differentiates the two teams. Behind Tubelas, the Wildcat team is brimming with NBA Draft hopefuls — Cal, on the other hand, has relied on the transfer portal to find unproven talents and small-school graduate transfers. Sunday’s battle will put on full display the massive gulf in quality between Arizona and a Cal team that is in crisis.

The next tally in Cal’s loss column can already be penciled in. 

“This team is going to have to earn their right to win, and that’s going to be difficult,” Fox said.“It’s been a little harder this year. We just learn from the fact that if you do things right and you continue to do things right, you’ll get where you have to be.”

Contact Colin Mequet at 

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DECEMBER 02, 2022