The last time Arizona visited Berkeley, a last-second shot ended the Wildcats’ record start and knocked them out of the top spot in the AP poll.
While their ranking isn’t quite as high Saturday night, the No. 7 Wildcats would like to avoid getting into foul trouble as they go for a fourth straight win against the struggling Golden Bears.
Arizona (17-2, 5-1 Pac-12) split two meetings with California last season, but the first proved costly. A jumper with 0.9 seconds left gave the Bears a 60-58 upset victory that ended the Wildcats’ school-record 21-0 start.
Arizona only fell one spot in the following poll, but could take a bigger tumble with a loss Saturday since Cal (11-8, 1-5) is tied with Southern California in the conference cellar.
The Golden Bears are trying to avoid their first six-game slide since Jan. 20-Feb. 10, 2007, and have dropped seven of eight overall. They’ve been outscored by an average of 16.2 points over the last five contests and were routed 79-44 by Arizona State on Thursday for their second-worst home loss in school history.
"It’s my job as a coach to get our guys ready to play … so I didn’t do a very good job and we came up short," first-year coach Cuonzo Martin said. "It’s a tough loss but the key is you have to learn from it. When you miss some easy ones around the rim, it’s tough."
The Wildcats also had some trouble Thursday, but still emerged with an 89-82 victory at Stanford after the teams combined for 51 fouls. Freshman center Dusan Ristic fouled out with no points in 11 minutes while starters Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski dealt with foul trouble.
"It was a really unique game," coach Sean Miller said. "We were in dire straits because of our foul trouble. It’s not easy to play through those moments."
Ashely found a way, scoring 17 points in 16 minutes – 12 fewer than his season average. The junior forward was averaging 9.0 points on 41.2 percent shooting – missing all 5 3s – over the previous four games.
Tarczewski has totaled 12 points in two games, going 4 for 13 from the field and 4 for 8 from the foul line. However, the junior center scored 34 points in two meetings with California last season, getting 18 while making all 12 free throws at Haas Pavilion.
Johnson is averaging 19.7 points on 52.6 percent from the floor over the last three games as the freshman is beginning to establish himself as Arizona’s go-to player late.
Cal will certainly need Tyrone Wallace to snap out of his scoring funk. The junior guard leads the team with averages of 17.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists, but he’s scoring just 8.3 points while making a paltry 21.6 percent from the floor over the past three games.
Wallace’s seven points Thursday came on free throws, as he missed all six field-goal attempts.