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Preview: Arizona State at California

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jan 28 2014 01:17:06 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 28 2014 01:17:07 PM CST

California on Wednesday looks to bounce back from a sweep of the Los Angeles schools when it hosts Arizona State, which is seeking its third straight victory. After opening Pac-12 play with five consecutive victories, the Golden Bears struggled defensively in a surprising loss to USC before falling 76-64 to UCLA on Sunday. Coach Mike Montgomery called Wednesday's contest a "must-win" for California, which faces top-ranked Arizona on Saturday.Arizona State's Jahii Carson moved past the 1,000-point career mark in Saturday's 72-51 victory over Colorado, but the sophomore point guard will need some help in the paint against California. The Sun Devils rank last in the Pac-12 with a rebounding margin of minus-0.3, while the Golden Bears boast a formidable frontline led by the league's top rebounder, Richard Solomon. Arizona State's defense revolves around 7-2 center Jordan Bachynski, the nation's leading shot blocker with 88.TV: 11 p.m. ET, ESPNUABOUT ARIZONA STATE (15-5, 4-3 Pac-12): Forward Jonathan Gilling, who came off the bench in the last two games after starting the first 18 contests, was 7-for-7 from 3-point range in wins over Utah and Colorado last week. Sophomore Eric Jacobsen has replaced Gilling in the starting lineup and made a strong impression on coach Herb Sendek. " Eric's improvement, his progress and his play are really helping our basketball team right now," Sendek told reporters. "He's such a smart player, a tough player, and you can just see his confidence growing."ABOUT CALIFORNIA (14-6, 5-2): Freshman wing Jabari Bird is still working to get back in game shape after missing four contests with a sprained ankle, but provided a glimpse of his potential with 12 second-half points against UCLA. Point guard Justin Cobbs averages a team-high 15.3 points and 6.2 assists for the Golden Bears, who are 10-0 at home this season. Guard Jordan Mathews (9.3 points) has had an inconsistent freshman season, but is on a tear after scoring 18 points in each of his last two games. TIP-INS1. Arizona State snapped a five-game losing streak to California with last season's 66-62 home victory.2. Carson has averaged 21.3 points in 16 true road games.3. Montgomery said G Ricky Kreklow, who has been out since Dec. 22 with a wrist injury, is not expected to return for several more weeks.PREDICTION: California 75, Arizona State 67

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