BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Guard Jorge Gutierrez, a top reserve for Pac-10 favorite California, is expected to miss at least the Golden Bears’ two games this week with a sprained right knee.
Gutierrez landed awkwardly on his surgically repaired knee with 7:20 remaining in the first half of a 92-66 victory over rival Stanford on Saturday in the team’s conference opener.
“It’s a tough loss for us having Jorge out,” starting forward Theo Robertson said Tuesday. “Just pick up the slack. Jorge does a lot of everything, rebounding, defending. I’m fully confident the other guys will go out there and do the same thing.”
The Bears (9-4, 1-0 Pac-10) take an 8-0 home record into their game Wednesday night against UCLA at Haas Pavilion, then host Southern California on Saturday.
Gutierrez, a sophomore, is averaging 5.7 points and 3.2 rebounds for Cal. Coach Mike Montgomery hopes Gutierrez soon will be able to start running and riding a stationary bike in order to be back for next week’s games at Washington State and Washington.
Gutierrez had surgery in the spring to repair a meniscus tear in the knee, but it still bothers him because there’s not as much cushioning in the knee.
“His knee’s bad,” Montgomery said. “There’s nothing structurally wrong other than what was wrong before. It’s hard to replace a guy like Jorge just because of the intangibles he brings. We’re going to need to get that.”
Cal has won five of six games, with its only loss in that stretch coming at top-ranked Kansas, 84-69, on Dec. 22. The Bears were 13th in the AP preseason poll but fell out of the rankings following losses to Syracuse and Ohio State in New York on Nov. 19-20.
The Bears are picked to win the conference after placing third in the Pac-10 last season — five spots higher than they were predicted to finish — and getting 22 victories in Montgomery’s first year in Berkeley.