Bubble Watch: Arizona Basketball Pummels California Basketball, Dents Bears' NCAA Tournament Hopes

By Matthew Sturgeon
Nick Johnson, Arizona Wildcats
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Johnson had 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the No. 3 Arizona Wildcats absolutely pummeled the California Bears on Wednesday night in Tucson, winning by a score of 87-59. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was also a major contributor for the Wildcats, as he chipped in with a double-double. He scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards in the beatdown. Justin Cobbs led the Bears with 12 points.

From the onset of this game, Arizona came out with a vengeance, as they wanted to make sure that Cal didn’t trip them up again. The Bears handed the Wildcats the first of their two losses on the season back on Feb. 1 in Berkley. Arizona looked terrific tonight, as they inched their way closer and closer to eventually grabbing the No. 1 seed out West in next month’s NCAA tournament.

Sean Miller‘s team really has it all. They possess excellent guard play, tremendous athleticism and great length in the interior. The Wildcats struggled in their first couple of games post the Brandon Ashley injury, but they seem to have regained their confidence and swagger as of late. Arizona has now won three straight games, including two blowouts at the expense of Tad Boyle‘s Colorado Buffaloesand tonight against California.

For the Bears, this was a really a bad loss, not so much because people were expecting them to win this game — they weren’t — but more so at the way in which they were dominated. Cal never had a chance in this game and the loss now drops them to 18-10 overall and 9-6 in Pac 12 Conference play. The Bears sit squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble and clearly still have work to do.

Working in their favor though is that win over Arizona earlier in the year. That is sure to sit very well in the eyes of the tournament’s selection committee. On the downside, their performance tonight will certainly raise some watching eyebrows as well.

Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27.

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