Cal posts runs of 19-5 and 17-2 to put Sam Houston State away

BERKELEY -- After falling behind early, Bears roll Sam Houston State, 89-63, with 18 points and 11 rebounds by Jaylen Brown.

BERKELEY -- No. 14 California fell behind Sam Houston State 7-0 in the early goings on Monday, but then, the Bears woke up. In 80 seconds, Cal went from down 7-0 to pu 8-7, and would never trail again for the rest of the night, riding two big runs in the first half to an eventual 89-63 win.

Cal (4-0) got off the mat following the 7-0 opening run by the Bearkats, and from 17:43 to 10:45, compiled a 19-5 run (including a 15-0 spurt), which saw freshman Jaylen Brown take over the game. While Brown fumbled several times in the post early in the game, he found his balance and his touch, pulling down three rebounds, scoring four points and tallying an assist and a steal over that run.

"Coach tells us: We get the rebound, we're gone," Brown said. "It makes us a different team when I'm pushing in transition. We're much faster, much harder to guard." Four Bears scored in double figures, led by Brown and Jordan Mathews with 18, Tyrone Wallace with 17 and Jabari Bird with 10. Bird put an exclamation point on the night with a dunk off a pass from himself, off the backboard on the break, with 3:49 left in the game.

"I thought it was our best game, on both ends of the floor, how we played, pretty much start-to-finish," Martin said. "They're a good team at spreading you out, attacking the rim, their guards put their heads down, straight driving, we told our guys, high hands on the catch. We did a great job of being prepared to play, and it showed."

Brown finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, career highs in both categories, as Cal scored 15 fast-break points and scored 10 points off of turnovers.

"Coach [Cuonzo] Martin didn't say anything about the score," Brown said about the early 7-0 deficit. "He just said to keep playing, and things would fall into place."

"You can see his energy level -- he's playing harder," Martin said of Brown. "When he rebounds going off the defensive glass, we're that much tougher in transition, because he can bring the ball up the floor."

Even more crucial was the play of Mathews, who had gone 1-of-5 from three-point range against East Carolina. Mathews hit back-to-back threes off of transition at 16:02 -- including one off of a Brown steal -- giving the Bears the lead.

"He played a very efficient game, and really battled on defense," Martin said of Mathews.

The real fuel for the Bears, though, was freshman Ivan Rabb. Over the first run, Rabb -- who struggled early finding purchase (and his hands) in the low post -- contributed two blocks, neutralizing two turnovers by the Bears, while scoring four points and adding a rebound. Rabb had eight points and five rebounds, but was much more sound defensively, and only had one foul. "He was a lot better," Martin said. "We spent a lot of time on him after the East Carolina game, just his position on defense, not getting in foul trouble -- that's the biggest key for him."

A three by Ameer Jackson with 9:07 left in the first half got Sam Houston State to within three points, but again, the Bears pulled away, this time with the yeoman's work being done by the point guards. Brown and Rabb combined for five rebounds and eight points, but Wallace and Sam Singer worked behind the scenes, with eight points, two rebounds, two assists and a 4-for-4 run at the free-throw line. During that second run, Sam Houston State went scoreless for 6:35.

"When we're able to get stops, we're getting easier looks," Wallace said. "We're able to score the ball, but it has to happen on the defensive end."

Wallace finished with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Mathews tied the team-high with 18 points, going 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, and hitting seven free throws -- all of those in the span of seven minutes in the second half.

In fact, Cal, as a whole, improved at the line. After starting 0-for-3, the Bears hit 22-of-28 to finish out the game.

"We're still having some breakdowns," Wallace said of the defense. "Last week, we held them under 40 percent from the field, and tonight, it was 37, so that's pretty good. I think we did a good job of getting in the passing lane, getting steals, getting in transition, rebounding the ball and getting out on the break."

The Bears had 17 assists to just six turnovers on the night, a far cry from the 15 they had against a zoning East Carolina. The smaller Bearkats did run zone once, but did not have the size to be able to collapse on Rabb down low to make it effective. That said, the zone did confuse the Bears for a bit, before they got a bail-out foul that got Sam Houston out of the 2-3 zone.

"I think it's more us, because we had 15 turnovers against East Carolina, and they play a zone -- that means we did a poor job taking care of the basketball," Martin said. "Be efficient with the basketball. Make the righ tplay. We spend a lot of time passing, catching, dribbling, making the right decisions. I don't understand why you'd have more htan 10 turnovers if the team's not pressing." Top Stories