What's at stake?

Third place in the Pac-12: If CU beats Cal and Arizona State loses at Oregon State, the Buffs will finish third.

Sole possession of fourth place: If CU and ASU both win, ASU finishes third and CU fourth.

Knotted up: If the Buffs and ASU both lose, there will be a tie for third place among at least four teams, and possibly five. If ASU wins and CU loses, there would be at least three times, and possibly four, tied for fourth place. Depending on tie-breakers, CU could still finish anywhere from third to seventh.

CU men's hoops preview

SATURDAY: The Colorado Buffaloes (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12) visit the California Bears (18-12, 9-8) in a 4:30 p.m. (MT) game at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif.

BROADCAST: Radio — KOA (850 AM), with Mark Johnson on play-by-play and Scott Wilke providing color commentary. TV — Pac-12 Network, with Rich Cellini and Dan Belluomini on the call.


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STORYLINES: CU snapped a two-game losing streak with a 59-56 win at Stanford on Wednesday. Josh Scott had 17 points and 11 rebounds for CU. ... Cal is coming off a 63-59 home loss to Utah, also on Wednesday. Richard Solomon had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Bears. ... The Buffs are seeking their 22nd win, which would be the most regular season wins in the 113-year history of the program. The 1996-97 team also won 21 regular season games. ... In 11 previous tries, CU has swept a two-game Pac-12 road trip just once (the Oregon trip in 2013). A year ago on this trip, CU won at Stanford by two and then lost at Cal by 16. ... CU is 5-5 on the road including 3-5 in Pac-12 road games. The last time CU won six road games was in 2003-04. ... Cal is 12-4 at home, but just 4-4 in Pac-12 home games. ... The Buffs are 13-1 in games decided by less than 10 points (losing only to Oklahoma State). Cal is 7-3 in single-digit games. ... CU's Josh Scott is 33-for-36 (91.7 percent) from the free throw line in the last four games. ... Scott and Askia Booker have been solid at the line in crunch time. In the final two minutes of regulation and in overtime, Scott is 21-for-27 (77.8 percent) from the line, while Booker is 54-for-74 (73.0 percent). ... As a team (not including injured Spencer Dinwiddie), the Buffs have hit 63.9 percent of their free throws (99-for-155) in the final two minutes of regulation. ... Solomon is one of just three players from major conferences averaging a double-double (also Kentucky's Julius Randle and Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes).

KEY STAT: Under the direction of coach Tad Boyle, CU is 39-2 when out-rebounding the opponent and holding the opposition under 40 percent shooting. The Buffs did both against Stanford on Wednesday.

COACHES: Tad Boyle is 90-47 in his fourth season at CU and 146-113 for his career. Mike Montgomery is 127-71 in his sixth season at Cal and 674-315 for his career.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado — G Xavier Talton, 6-2, So. (4.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 apg); G Askia Booker, 6-2, Jr. (13.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.5 apg); F Wesley Gordon, 6-9, Fr. (6.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg); F Xavier Johnson, 6-7, So. (11.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg); F Josh Scott, 6-10, So. (14.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg). California — G Justin Cobbs, 6-4, Sr. (15.4 ppg, 5.8 apg); G Tyrone Wallace, 6-5, So. (11.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg); G Ricky Kreklow, 6-6, Jr. (6.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg); F Richard Solomon, 6-10, Sr. (11.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg); F David Kravish, 6-9, Jr. (11.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg).

SERIES: CU and Cal have split their 22 meetings to this point, 11-11. The Buffs, however, are just 1-9 in Berkeley, with the only win coming on Dec. 7, 2004.

UP NEXT: CU will play in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. The tournament begins Wednesday.

BERKELEY, Calif. — Emotions figure to be high on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion, when California fans will honor the seniors on their men's basketball team.

The Bears will say goodbye to three seniors, including two of their best players — Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon. There's no question that Cal would love to send them out on a good note.

Colorado, meanwhile, hopes to do to Cal what has been done to them. Two weeks ago, the Buffaloes had their senior night — and got thumped by Arizona. It was CU's second consecutive loss on senior night.

"We've lost two senior nights in a row, so we know it can be done," CU head coach Tad Boyle said of winning Saturday's regular season finale.

Spoiling Cal's senior night is hardly the main motivation for the Buffaloes, however. Cal has bigger reasons for motivation, too.

CU (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12) comes into the game looking to secure one of the top four spots in the conference standings, which would then give the Buffs a first-round bye for next week's Pac-12 Tournament. CU could also solidify its spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Cal (18-12, 9-8) has plenty on the line, too. The Bears have lost four of their last five and are in danger of playing themselves out of the NCAA Tournament. They have a chance at a top-four conference finish, too. Cal started 5-0 in conference play, but is just 4-8 since.

"Cal is better than their record," Boyle said. "This will be another big challenge for our players."

Despite Cal's recent struggles, the Bears do have a great deal of talent. Cobbs, the Bears' point guard, is one of the top players in the conference, while Solomon leads the Pac-12 in rebounding (10.0 per game) and also scores 11.1 points per game. The Bears have four players averaging at least 11 points per game.

"They've got some offensive firepower and when they want to be they're a very good defensive team," Boyle said.

He could say the same for his own team. CU has been inconsistent with its defense, but played very well on defense in Wednesday's 59-56 win at Stanford.

"If our defensive energy and intensity was like it was against Stanford, we're going to give ourselves a chance," Boyle said.

Attacking the glass

Generally, CU has been a good rebounding team and statistically, the Buffs are better on the boards than Cal. However, the Bears feature two of the Pac-12's best rebounders. Solomon leads the conference in boards, while David Kravish isn't far behind, at 7.6 per game.

"We just have to be able to do our principles, which is box out and rebound," CU's Xavier Johnson said. "It's all about heart and who wants it more, so I think we should just go out there and do what we know can do and what we're capable of and we should win."

Sputtering on offense

CU's Askia Booker has struggled on offense lately, scoring just 7.0 points per game in the last three, while making just 25 percent of his shots (8-for-32). He's 0-for-9 from 3-point range during that stretch and has had nine turnovers in the past two games.

Boyle said that while the Buffs need to get Booker going offensively, they are happy with how he's played defensively of late.

"His defensive intensity was good (at Stanford)," Boyle said. "He didn't let the frustrations on offense bleed over to the defense. It's really important that he does that. He's a good offensive player, but his identity has got to be 'I'm going to help this team get stops.' If he's got great energy on defense, I can live with his inconsistencies on offense."

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/brianhowell33.