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Cal visits UCLA in battle of struggling teams

cal-visits-ucla-in-battle-of-struggling-teams

Pac-12 counterparts Cal and UCLA meet on Saturday in Los Angeles, each looking to break out of a prolonged slump.

The Bruins (6-8, 1-2) carry an overall streak of two straight losses but have also lost six of seven overall and three straight at home. The losing streak at Pauley Pavilion continued Wednesday with a 59-53 loss to Stanford.

UCLA jumped to a 10-0 lead to start the game and made eight of its first nine field-goal attempts but went cold offensively the rest of the way.

“We can’t shoot (21.4) percent in the second half of a game and have any chance to win,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said in Wednesday’s postgame news conference. “We’re struggling mightily on the offensive end to shoot. … Teams are packing (the defense) in on us.”

In addition to struggles shooting with opponents playing an interior-focused defensive style — UCLA is making just 29.4 percent from 3-point range and 45.1 percent inside the arc — Cronin lamented that “turnovers are destroying” the Bruins.

UCLA is averaging 12.2 turnovers per game after committing 16 on both Wednesday vs. Stanford and on Dec. 30 in a 64-59 loss at Oregon. The Bruins committed only 10 turnovers per game last season en route to winning the Pac-12 regular-season championship.

Cal (4-10, 0-3) arrives in Westwood having lost three straight — all conference games — including Wednesday’s 82-74 loss at Southern California.

Saturday marks one year to the day since Cal last won a Pac-12 game — Jan. 6, 2023, vs. Stanford — with this season’s 0-3 start extending the program’s conference losing streak to 18 regular-season games. The Golden Bears are winless in their last 24 games away from home.

Playing without veteran guard Devin Askew, who sustained a foot injury in a 71-69 loss to Arizona State on Dec. 31, Cal rallied from a 17-point deficit on Wednesday to pull within four in the final minute.

“No matter what the adversity is, our guys are going to give that full effort,” Cal coach Mark Madsen said via Rivals.com following the loss. “Couple tweaks, it’s a different ballgame.”

One approach Cal will not need to tweak on Saturday is to continue feeding Jaylon Tyson on offense. Tyson’s 23-point effort vs. USC marked his third straight game of 20-plus points, and fourth in the Golden Bears’ last five games.

–Field Level Media

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