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January 2, 2015 at 1:31 PM

Pac-12 predictions: Big front line should help UW against Cal

Robert Upshaw, left, and Jernard Jarreau, right, should help give No. 21 Washington a size advantage up front against California in Friday's Pac-12 opener at Haas Pavilion. (Photo credit: Lindsey Wasson - Seattle Times)

Robert Upshaw, left, and Jernard Jarreau, right, should help give No. 21 Washington a size advantage up front against California in Friday’s Pac-12 opener at Haas Pavilion. (Photo credit: Lindsey Wasson – Seattle Times)

What a difference a year makes.

The last time Washington came into Haas Pavilion they were shorthanded underdogs. Literally. Back then the Huskies relied on a small four-guard lineup that was no match for California, which received double-double performances from forwards Richard Solomon and David Kravish for a dominating 82-56 win on Jan. 15, 2014.

The 26-point beatdown tied for the worst lopsided UW defeat last season. It was also the start of something awful for the Huskies, which entered the game 3-1 Pac-12 record. The Cal defeat marked the beginning to a swift decline for Washington, which finished the season 6-9.

However, this year the Huskies are the bigger team against a Cal lineup that lacks proven big men.

Senior forward David Kravish is a three-year starter who will go down as one of the most accomplished players in Bears history. He’ll likely become the first Cal player with 1,000 career points, 800 career rebounds and 200 career blocks.

However, Cal is still looking for consistent contribution from the other bigs, including junior Christian Behrens, a first-year starter. Reserve big men Kingley Okoroh and Roger Moute a Bidias combine to average 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds.

At least on paper, the Huskies have the advantage up front with center Robert Upshaw and forwards Shawn Kemp Jr. and Jernard Jarreau. Upshaw and Kemp are double-digit scorers. Upshaw averages 7.4 rebounds and he leads the country with 55 blocks.

Washington will have to keep close tabs on Tyrone Wallace who does a little bit of everything for Cal. The 6-5 guard crushed the Huskies in their last meeting with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Expect UW’s defensive ace Mike Anderson to chase Wallace all over the court.

If everything plays out according to the scouting reports – and really, how often does that happen? – then the game will be decided by guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews who will be paired against first-year starters Jordan Mattews and Sam Singer.

Theoretically, Williams-Goss and Andrews should win their matchups. However, Matthews is a streaky scorer who dropped 32 points on Oregon last season. And Williams-Goss and Andrews are also inconsistent perimeter shooters.

Las Vegas oddsmakers say it’s a pick’em game and gives no points to either team.

I say size matters.

THE PICK: Washington 72-66.

TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:

Game Time TV
Washington State (6-6) at Stanford (8-3) 12 p.m. Pac-12 Networks
No. 21 Washington (11-1) at California (10-3) 7 p.m. Pac-12 Networks
UCLA (8-5) at Colorado (7-5) 7 p.m. Fox Sports 1
USC (8-4) at No. 10 Utah (10-2) 7 p.m. ESPNU

 

THE PICKS: Stanford, Colorado and Utah.

GUESS THE UW SCORE WINNER: progressivedawg, 71-65 Stony Brook. The Huskies lost 62-57. Contact me (pallen@seattletimes.com) to claim your prize. Thanks for playing.

Comments | More in Guess the UW Score | Topics: California

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