Washington State visits California in rematch of conference’s bottom two teams

February 22, 2018

BERKELEY, Calif. – The race for 11th is on.

When California and Washington State met on the hardwood more than a month ago, the Golden Bears and Cougars boasted the worst records in the Pac-12 Conference. Forty days have passed, but not a lot has changed since WSU took down Cal 78-53 behind a 3-point barrage from Robert Franks.

Only the pecking order.

Cal (8-19, 2-12) and WSU (10-16, 2-12) are scheduled for a rematch at 8 tonight at Berkeley’s Haas Pavilion – a game that could and should go a long way in determining whether it’s the Golden Bears or Cougars wearing the conference’s No. 12 seed at the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

Both share identical league records, but by virtue of WSU’s 25-point win in January, the Cougars own the head-to-head tiebreaker and sit in 11th place. Only by winning out and having Oregon State lose each of its final four games could WSU or Cal catch the Beavers for 10th place.

But the Cougars, don’t necessarily have seeds on their mind.

“I don’t really look at the seeding yet,” WSU coach Ernie Kent said. “I look at the competition. We’re going to get a different California team than we had here because you’re playing them at home and there’s the fact that you beat them.”

Cal, too, is hopeful it’ll see a different WSU team. The Cougars buried 15 of 28 3-pointers when the teams played in Pullman. Franks broke a school record, nailing 10 of his 13 3-pointers for a career-high 34 points.

Don Coleman is still Cal’s scoring leader, at 15.7 points per game. Three other Bears are averaging double digits: Justice Sueing (13.6), Marcus Lee (12.3) and Darius McNeill (11.5).

Cal must be weary of Franks, who’s seventh in the Pac-12 at 17.8 ppg, but also sophomore point guard Malachi Flynn, who’s scored 66 points in his last three games including a career-high 30 in the win over Colorado.

The Cougars are seeking their first true road win of the season. Not including neutral site games, they’re 0-9 outside of Beasley Coliseum this season and haven’t won on an opponent’s court since a Jan. 29 game at Arizona State last year.