California looks to solve road woes on trip to Washington

Feb 17, 2016 - 1:09 AM BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Few teams, if any, have been as strong at home this season as California.

The Golden Bears are tied for the most home wins in the country with 16 and have yet to lose at Haas Pavilion. They have knocked off three nationally ranked teams at home, including last week's win over then-No. 11 Oregon to put them in position for a Pac-12 regular season title.

That can only happen if Cal can figure out how to win on the road. Cal's only victory in nine games away from Haas was in overtime at Wyoming in December. The only major conference teams with fewer wins away from home are Missouri and Rutgers with none.

But with the Bears (17-8, 7-5) playing four of their final six regular season games on the road, solving that problem is paramount.

''You look at how we play at home, we're always dialed in,'' guard Jordan Mathews said. ''We feed off the crowd at Haas. The NCAA Tournament isn't played at Haas Pavilion so we have to find a way to win on the road. The way the season is going, we don't have that many home games left - two, that's it.''

Cal gets its next chance at a road win this weekend in Washington when the Bears visit the Huskies on Thursday night before taking on Washington State on Sunday.

After a home weekend against UCLA and Southern California, the Bears finish the regular season with a trip to Arizona. Then comes the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas and Cal hopes an NCAA berth at a neutral site.

''On the road, we have to be able to weather when teams go on runs or we're not able to score the ball,'' point guard Tyrone Wallace said. ''Just minimize mistakes and play through the crowd and build on our energy.''

It's not like Cal has been dominated on the road. They fell in overtime at then-No. 5 Virginia in December and all Pac-12 road losses have been by fewer than 10 points.

But the Bears have committed more than 3.5 more turnovers per game in conference road games compared to home, while having its shooting percentage fall by more than seven points.

Protecting the ball will be important against a Washington team that has forced the most turnovers in the Pac-12 and thrives on the transition points from those miscues by opponents.

''The thing for our team is taking care of the basketball, turnovers in critical situations,'' coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''It's one thing to have turnovers, but you can't have those live-ball turnovers and suddenly the game changes and takes the morale out of your team, the energy out of your team.''

A healthy Wallace should give the Bears a boost. After missing five games with a broken bone in his right hand, Wallace returned last week and scored 27 points in 57 minutes off the bench against Oregon and Oregon State.

Wallace could be ready to return to the starting lineup this week.

''He settled in nicely,'' Mathews said. ''I think he's done a great job. A lot of guys come off injuries and are kind of timid and things like that. Tyrone wasn't timid and played well these past two games.''

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