In years gone by, UCLA’s basketball team dominated Cal. The Bruins even put together a string of 52 straight victories over the Bears. But since that winning streak was broken in Berkeley on a wild afternoon in 1986, the Bruins are rightfully wary of Harmon Gym.
Again tonight, there will be 6,578 packed into the old building, screaming and stomping and trying to conjure up the spirit of that upset and of another victory over the Bruins there last season.
UCLA Coach Jim Harrick points to games the Bruins have played before packed houses at Brigham Young and at Arizona when he says that his team is a seasoned team. But he also points out that Cal is a better team than when the Bruins beat the Bears at Pauley Pavilion earlier this season, 76-59. And that Cal needs the victory every bit as much as the Bruins do.
Both Cal (18-10) and UCLA (18-7) have two Pacific 10 games remaining.
“Cal is kind of on the bubble, too,” Harrick said. “They might have a chance at the NCAA tournament. . . . Cal can see a 20-game season on the horizon with games at home this week against UCLA and USC.
“We’d really like to win 20 games. You want to take the decision out of the hands of the (NCAA) committee. You don’t want to be on the bubble.”
So the Bruins will not be looking past Cal to top-ranked Arizona Saturday.
“This is a game that can get us one more win,” Harrick said. “I think we have a greater opportunity to win this one than the one against Arizona. One more win wraps up third place in the conference for us.”
Tonight’s game will be broadcast at 7:30 on KMPC (710) and televised, delayed, at 9:30 on Prime Ticket. . . . Cal’s leader is Leonard Taylor, who averages 19.5 points a game and 8.3 rebounds. . . . Kevin Williams, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee last week, originally was expected back in time for the Pac-10 tournament. But Coach Jim Harrick said Tuesday that the knee has been swollen, and now he’s not sure Williams will be back this season.
Freshman Don MacLean, who sprained the top of the arch in his left foot Sunday against Washington State, is expected to play against Cal. . . . Dave Manha, a student manager for the UCLA basketball team, had two operations for cancer in October and has been undergoing radiation therapy all season, but he has continued to work as a manager. Harrick said: “He’s been our inspiration all season.”