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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 11 Arizona MBB returns home to face Cal

Mason Kumet
KJ Lewis extends in the air to block the University of Texas at Arlington at the 3-point line during the second half of a home win in McKale Center on Sunday, Nov. 19. Lewis led Arizona with three blocks to close out a 101-56 victory before heading on the road to face Michigan State University.

The No. 11 Arizona men’s basketball team returns home this week to take on the University of California, Berkeley, on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 6:30 p.m. in McKale Center. The Wildcats (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12) are coming off a substantial 87-78 victory against the University of Oregon after facing the Ducks on Jan. 27, putting Arizona back in the win column. 

History vs. Cal 

This will be the 105th meeting between the Golden Bears and the Wildcats, as they first met on Feb. 1, 1924. The two programs continued to meet consistently since then and recently went against each other on Dec. 29, 2023, with Arizona securing a 100-81 win. The Wildcats are currently holding a 14-game winning streak against Cal while also leading the series record, 74-30 and are 39-11 when at home. 

Cal players to watch 

Cal currently holds an 8-12 record and is led by first-year Head coach Mark Madsen. The Golden Bears are coming off a narrow 73-71 win against Stanford University, where Jaylon Tyson led Cal with 14 points and six rebounds. In the same game, Tyson suffered a leg injury during the second half and was unable to return during the remaining minutes as Cal was still able to secure the win. Tyson is the current leading scorer for the Golden Bears, averaging 20.6 points per game, 3.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds. The guard, who transferred from Texas Tech, recently scored a season-high 30 points in a win against Washington State University and contributed nine rebounds in the same game. Tyson has averaged 22.2 points in his last five games, putting up 30 points twice. 

Jalen Celestine played a crucial role for Cal in their win against Stanford, scoring 12 points and making clutch free throws in the final minute to secure the 73-71 victory.  Celestine returns for California this year after not playing in the 2022-2023 season due to an offseason knee surgery and is currently averaging 7.6 points and three rebounds per game. Guard Keonte Kennedy also had a significant part in the victory over Stanford, acquiring three steals in addition to his 11 points and three rebounds. Kennedy is the team’s fourth leading scorer, averaging a stat line of 9.8 ppg, 2.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. Kennedy also leads in steals along with Tyson, averaging 1.5 steals per game.   

Fardaws Aimaq continues to act as a defensive prowess for the Golden Bears while also being the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 15.3 points per game. The 6-foot-11 forward leads the team in rebounds with 10.8 rebounds per game on top of 2.3 assists and put up 18 points and 14 rebounds in a recent game against Washington State. 

Arizona players to watch 

Caleb Love led Arizona in the victory over Oregon, scoring a season-high 36 points on 12 of his 18 shots while going 5-8 from the 3-point line. Love was named a top-10 finalist for the Jerry West Award this week and remains the leading scorer for the Wildcats, averaging 19.8 ppg. The guard continues to impress with his play-making abilities for Arizona and stays consistent in all areas of the game, averaging 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Love has averaged 24.2 points in his last five games and is reliable when it comes to his free throw shooting percentage, improving to 86%. 

While Kylan Boswell has seen a decrease in his scoring ability, the guard was able to change that in the game against Oregon, putting up 14 points, three assists and two rebounds, along with two steals. Boswell’s improvement is something to keep an eye on as the guard averages 9.8 ppg and 2.3 rebounds while also leading with 1.5 steals per game for Arizona. As Boswell returns to his potential to dominate the floor, he continues to lead the Wildcats in assists, averaging 3.7 assists per game.

Oumar Ballo is another key player to watch for, as he plays a vital role for the Wildcats’ defense, leading Arizona with nine rebounds per game. Ballo has also seen improvement in his scoring abilities, contributing 10 points and nine rebounds against Oregon and has averaged 11 rebounds in the past five games. The 7-foot center is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 12.3 ppg and one assist. 

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