Cal Downs Rice 97-65 as Ivan Rabb nets first career double-double

BERKELEY -- Ivan Rabb nets a double double in his first career game, while point guard Tyrone Wallace scores 20 points in an easy win over Rice.

BERKELEY – The opening-night crowd of 10,530 at Haas Pavilion came to see California’s highly-touted pair of freshmen, and they did not disappoint. In a dominant 97-65 win by the Bears over visiting Rice – without star Marcus Evans. First-year big man Ivan Rabb out of nearby Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd netted his first career double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in just 16 minutes of play.

“I feel like we were over-prepared for this game," Rabb said. "Coaches put us in the right positions, we came out and we executed. We facilitated so well that we had a pretty good time easing into the game.” "I thought the guys did a solid job sharin the basketball, moving the ball, creating plays," said head coach Cuonzo Martin. "I thought our bigs did a much better job of protecting the lane. A solid team effort on both ends of the floor."

Part of that team effort was freshman point guard Tyrone Wallace, who scored a game-high 20 points, with a team-high eight assists. He now sits at No. 24 on the Bears' all-time scoring list  with 1,216 points, apssing Doug True (1977-80). It was Wallace's 17th career 20-point performance.

"There are so many things we've got to work on, but I'm glad to have a guy like Tyrone Wallace who can get you out of a jam," Martin said. "He's a guy that has a tremendous amount of confidence. I tell people all the time -- here's a guy that shot 60 percent from the free throw line, but he still wants the ball down the stretch in games. He never lacked the confidence. More than anything, he lacked the reps."

While freshman Jaylen Brown (14 points, 2 assists in 15 minutes) certainly wowed with his athleticism and the variety of ways he can score – off the dribble, pulling up from mid-range and from three – it was Rabb who made the biggest mark.

"When I get offensive rebounds, it feeds our team, it feeds our hype," Rabb said. "Besides the foul trouble, I think I played pretty well. There were a few times I got confused out there, but my teammates helped me out."

"It's hard to duplicate a lot of game sutiations -- they run the pitch-back, dribble-weave siutionans, and we don't see tha tin the league much, so you duplicate it for two days, but it's hard until you get to that type of offense live," Martin said of Rice. "Ivan didn't get exposed as much because he's a big, but when you're a perimeter, on a switch, knowing when to stay with your guy, it's tough."

In his first five minutes on the floor in the first half, Rabb already had six points and six rebounds – including four offensive boards. Rabb finished the night with seven offensive rebounds, while the Owls, as a team, had seven.

Rabb’s court vision – evinced by a no-look pass to Jordan Mathews for a drive that scored the second foul on 6-foot-10, 260-pound Andrew Drone – fueled Cal’s offense and shored up its defense in the early goings, as Rice started the game 13-for-33 from the floor.

"They showed great poise," Mathews said of the two freshmen. "They showed that they're ready for anything."

"I think we've just scratched the surface," Brown said.

The starters had just two turnovers, while the Bears dished out 16 assists on 36 baskets.

"We're denying the wings, locking down the wings in practice, so we understand the value of the ball, so turning the ball over is not something we do, or really want to do," Mathews said.

From 13:50 to 8:47, the Golden Bears went on a dominant 13-0 run, and though it was broken by an Egor Koulechov bucket, Cal answered back with back-to-back three-pointers from Mathews and Brown.

"We fed off of the packed house," Mathews said.

Mathews, it should be noted, used his three pump-fake to set up a drive four times, and got points out of it twice. A fourth time, with 15:19 left in the game, he faked, drove, and dished to an open Stephen Domingo, but his three bounced off the rim. The addition of Mathews’ inside game certainly diversifies the Cal offense, as does the fact that Wallace now has more weapons to use on the outside, which opens up the lane for him.

"He spent a lot of time in the offseason on his shot fake," Martin said. "That part of his game, to handle it, to not turn it over, is where he's really improved."

As clean as Rabb got the glass, Wallace pulled down five defensive rebounds in the first half alone, and dished out for assists while scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting before the break.

Rice was limited to just four second-chance points in the first half, while the Bears had seven. Cal also tallied three blocks, and forced bad shots and hard angles, as the Owls had just three assists on 13 shots made in the first half.

The second half saw both Rabb and Brown handcuffed and on the bench for long stretches, due to hand check fouls, but that’s when the bench took over. After scoring just four points in the first half, the Cal reserves tallied 20, including a pair of three-pointers from Sam Singer, who finished with seven points on 2-of-3 shooting, with four rebounds, one assist and a steal.

"I've got to do a better job. It was a learning experience," Brown said of the fouls.

"We've got to get better at moving our feet, and communication," Rabb said.

The biggest bench contributor, though, was arguably Georgetown transfer Domingo. Domingo led all comers with five rebounds in the second half – three on the offensive end, and two on the defensive end. Domingo finished the game with six points and six rebounds.

"For us, we have a major advantage with him, because he can guard bigger guys on the perimeter, he can bang in the post, and I don't see as many big guys defending him," Martin said. "He can stretch the defense and move, and has improved his ability to attck off the dribble."

Wallace finished with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, with a game-high eight assists and six rebounds.

"That," Rabb said, "was Tyrone being Tyrone."

The big takeaway as far as the senior point guard is concerned was that he wasn’t taking bad shots. There is more room in the lane for him to work, thanks to the other pieces around him, particularly Mathews and Brown on the outside.

"You share the ball, good things are goign to happen," Mathews said. "It's nothing we don't see every day in practice."

"That's that senior leadership showing out," Brown said.


Former Cal and Rice head coach Ben Braun was recognized during the game, as part of the broadcast team.

WIth the win, the Bears improve to 10-0 in their last 10 season openers, and have now won 11 of their last 11 home openers.

The last time Cal scored 90 poitns was Feb. 1, 2015, against Washington.

The Bears are now 2-1 all-time against Rice, with the last meeting being a 64-54 win at Rice during the 1974-75 season.

As a team, the Bears tallied seven blocks, with two from Rabb, Jabari Bird and Kingsley Okoroh.The last time Cal tallied five or more was against Arizona on March 7 of last season, with seven, as well.

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