STANFORD -- Neither Cal's Justin Cobbs nor Stanford's Chasson Randle has lost his way -- or his confidence -- even during the sometimes up and down process of learning to play point guard.
But only one will emerge victorious in their matchup Saturday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, and for him and his team the road going forward will be easier.
The Golden Bears (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12) and Cardinal (10-7, 1-3), after early stumbles, are hoping to stay within reach of the conference leaders. UCLA, Oregon and Washington all enter play Saturday unbeaten in the Pac-12, while Arizona and Arizona State have just one defeat apiece.
As full-time point guards for the first time this season, there is lot on the shoulders of Cobbs, a junior from Los Angeles, and Randle, a sophomore from Rock Island, Ill.
Cobbs, who played almost exclusively at shooting guard last season, acknowledged the position he inherited from Jorge Gutierrez is the toughest on the floor.
"For the guys who have it down pat, I'm happy for them," he said. "For guys like us, who are struggling a little bit, we're learning."
Randle played both guard spots last season, but departed senior Jarrett Mann was there to share the ballhandling. Over the final 14 games, including a run to the NIT title, Randle was terrific, shooting better than 54 percent from the 3-point line.
From there, it seems neither Randle nor backcourt mate Aaron Bright can find the basket this season.
The position change is not the cause of his accuracy issues, he said. "Not at all. I can't put any of that on the way I'm shooting the ball. I'm comfortable at both positions."
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins continues to have faith in Randle.
"I think he has some moments where he needs to grow in the position. But on turnover ratio, he's fine. Defensively, he's really sound," said Dawkins, noting that Randle played early in the season with an injured hand. "He's starting to pick it up, getting better. We're excited about it."
The season started well for Cobbs, who was averaging 20 points while shooting 63.5 percent as the Bears opened with six straight wins. Then he hit the skids, averaging 12 points and shooting 38.3 percent over the next nine games.
After Cobbs shot 4 for 15 in a loss to Washington last week, Cal coach Mike Montgomery said shooting percentages are a byproduct of taking good shots and that Cobbs simply needed to find a balance between passing and scoring.
Three days later, during the Bears' win over Washington State, Cobbs went the entire first half without attempting a shot. He took two second-half shots against the Cougars, and made them both.
Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.