The California Golden Bears are finishing off a brutal start to Pac-10 conference play that has elevated their overall strength of schedule to 2nd toughest in the country. They had to start January with a three game roadtrip, including a decisive defeat to their rivals in Palo Alto in the Stanford Cardinal, a close but bitter loss to Derrick Williams and the Arizona Wildcats after the transfer of Gary Franklin, and an equally narrow but strong win over the Arizona St. Sun Devils. After Cal overcame an impressive performance by Klay Thompson to beat the Washington St. Cougars at home in overtime, the Washington Huskies came into Haas Pavilion on Sunday and blew the doors off a fatigued and overmatched Golden Bears squad.
So now Cal heads back on the road to cap off their incredibly difficult seven game start in the conference. Although neither the UCLA Bruins or USC Trojans are playing particularly dominant basketball, the Bears will be underdogs in both games and probably can only hope to salvage a split. A split would be very satisfactory though, as the Bears were predicted to go 2-5 in their opening stretch. An additional win would push them to 3-4 and above those previously low expectations.