Exhausted Arizona looking for an elevator to Cal

Arizona’s hard four-game stretch in nine days, with coach Sean Miller trying to work through injuries and player exhaustion, ends Saturday with California visiting a Pac-12 game in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats lost to Stanford 73-64 on Thursday and led their first-season sweep to the 13-year-old Cardinal, with an impoverished backcourt that is heavily dependent on James Akinjo and Terrell Brown Jr.

Bennedict Mathurin played 26 minutes off the bench despite suffering what appeared to be a serious right ankle against Arizona State on Monday. He had ten points.

Wildcats (12-4, 6-4 Pac-12) play without guard Jemarl Baker Jr. for the rest of the season after suffering a season-ending wrist injury against UCLA on January 9th.

Akinjo (35 minutes against Stanford) and Brown (37) had characteristic turnover problems against Stanford and combined for nine of the team’s 18.

“We are beaten,” Miller said. “We looked like a team that was not as ready as we needed to be. We were not a functioning group in any phase of the game: turnover, defense, scouting (and) execution.”

At the same time, Cal (7-11, 2-9) seemed energetic against Arizona State on Thursday in a 72-68 loss that marked Matt Bradley’s return to the starting lineup for the first time in almost a month.

Bradley, who missed five games earlier this month with injuries, produced 26 points and 10 rebounds against the Sun Devils. He was a second team All-Pac-12 selection a year ago as a sophomore.

“Matt is not Matt Bradley as everyone saw a year ago,” said Golden Fox coach Mark Fox. “He’s had injuries to both legs. He just does not have the same legs he had a year ago. Eventually he will. Right now he does not.

“I thought he played super hard. Many of the things he always finished did not really go in tonight. He is a bit rhythmic and still needs to get some conditioning back.”

Andre Kelly of California contributed 16 points and a career-best 13 rebounds against the Sun Devils for his first double-double of the season.

With Arizona’s guard game stretched thin, matching it with the strong Bradley (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) is a concern for the feral cats.

Miller will trust that his inner players will provide support. Azuolas Tubelis and Jordan Brown were ineffective against Stanford and combined for nine points on 2-of-13 shots from the field. They combined for nine returns and four turnovers.

– Field level media

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