December 21, 2015

Virginia has worked through the toughest portion of its nonconference schedule without too many problems thus far, which might come as a bit of a surprise given the uncharacteristic number of turnovers it's committed.

It doesn't get a whole lot easier with California visiting Tuesday night, and both schools are hoping to build on significant winning streaks with conference play approaching.

The fifth-ranked Cavaliers (9-1) beat then-No. 12 Villanova 86-75 at home Saturday with 12 turnovers, which came 11 days after committing 19 in a 70-54 win over then-No. 14 West Virginia in New York.

The 15.5 average is more than double the 7.4 they were committing entering the West Virginia game. They've countered it with two of their best shooting performances, making a combined 59.6 percent.

"We hit our shots. We shot the 3-ball well and made our free throws," coach Tony Bennett said after the win over the Wildcats, his team's eighth straight since a loss at George Washington on Nov. 16.

"We broke their pressure a couple of times and got some easy baskets. Guys just played well offensively. They had us rattled. We had 12 turnovers, but I thought in the second half we got into the paint and made the extra pass. Those were all big shots. Eight of 12 from 3 is obviously significant."

Anthony Gill has averaged 21.0 points and 9.5 rebounds while going 17 of 20 in the last two wins, which has gotten the attention of top scorer Malcolm Brogdon.

"I think he has stepped up, maybe three or four games ago I saw a complete difference," Brogdon said. "He is super aggressive offensively, and he is attacking the glass. He is really good on defense, and I think he is doing exactly what the team needs him to do. I think he has been phenomenal."

Darius Thompson has also stepped up and is plenty familiar with Cal coach Cuonzo Martin. The two were at Tennessee together in 2013-14 before Martin took the Cal job and the guard left for Virginia. Thompson has started the last four games and averaged 11.3 points while shooting 62.1 percent.

"I am very excited for it and I can't wait to play him," Thompson said. "I haven't talked to him in a while so it's going to be nice getting to see and talk to him before and after the game. But, it will be just another game going into it."

The Golden Bears (9-2) are coming off an 84-51 home win over Coppin State and limited the Eagles to 23.8 percent shooting for their fifth straight win.

"There's not really a game plan, but to just defend," Martin said. "To guard your guy and put pressure on the ball. They were shooting a lot of 3s and they made some tonight. Again, contesting the 3-point line and to contain was our goal. Contest, contain and keep your guy in front of you, and I thought we did a solid job."

Cal is among the national leaders in defensive field-goal percentage (37.7).

Ivan Rabb and Jordan Mathews each scored 13 points. Rabb, the 6-foot-11 freshman, has shot 71.4 percent in his last four games.

"We played with tremendous energy and played together," Rabb said. "We just wanted to build on that."

The Golden Bears have yet to face a ranked opponent this season, and they've lost their last seven games against the top five away from Berkeley since beating then-No. 4 UCLA in the 2007 Pac-10 tournament.

Virginia has won its last 31 home games against unranked opponents while holding them to 48.8 points per game.

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