BERKELEY -- Tyrone Wallace had already played 14 minutes by the time he got the ball in transition from freshman Ivan Rabb, and hit the pump fake lefty up-and-under lay-in to give California a 19-point lead, but that play was truly the Welcome Back for the senior Bears point guard, who'd missed five games with a broken right hand. Wallace finished with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds, to go along with four asissts, as Cal, for the second time this season, took down a top-15 team at home, shocking No. 11 Oregon to the tune of 83-63 in front of 10,628.
"Good win, great environment, and good to have Tyrone back; our guys fed off of it," Cuonzo Martin said. "Tyrone back, we had fun, we played hard, we played together. 20 assists, 11 turnovers, good win."
Cal's 20 assists -- led by a career-high 11 from Sam Singer -- were two short of the Bears' single-game season high.
"We got kicked," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. "I don't know how else to put it."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1642011-jaylen-brown-earns...Cal got a mid-afternoon text on Thursday from Martin, with junior wing Jabari Bird saying he was dozing off in class, to inform them that Wallace was returning.
"I don't want to say what class it was, because I don't want to get in trouble," Bird joked.
"I told them Tyrone was cleared for takeoff," Martin said.
Wallace did not practice at all this week, and was only cleared on Thursday, entering the game at 14:56 in the first half. His broken right hand was supposed to take 4-6 weeks to heal, after his Jan. 16 injury. He got back a bit quicker, and not a moment too soon.
"I was very excited to be back, play with my teammates, and I was looking forward to helping them on the court," Wallace said. "I came out, missed some shots, moved fast, but as the game settled down, I was able to find that groove. I'm just happy to be back."
Two minutes after Wallace's lay-in, he lofted a floating pass to a leaping Rabb for the flush, to give the Bears their largest lead of the night, at 54-30.
While Wallace was scoreless in the first half, he did lead Cal (16-8, 6-5 in Pac-12) in rebounding for the stanza, with six, and he scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
Cal improved to 15-0 at home, while the Ducks (20-5, 9-3 in Pac-12) fell to 4-4 on the road this season, and the Bears got the festivities started early. After a three-pointer to open the game by Jaylen Brown, Oregon's first offensive possession ended in a steal by Brown, who drove home the left-handed tomahawk dunk, to touch off a 12-2 run, which turned into a 27-9 shelling to start the game by Cal. Brown finished with 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting, and certainly benefitted from a recharged and re-focused Wallace.
"I was able to see the game from a coach's perspective, watched the guys perform, see what was going on on the court, and I noticed breakdowns, what we could do better, and now, I can preach that to the guys, and tonight, we did a very good job," Wallace said of his sabbatical. "Other than turnovers at the end, not a lot to harp about tonight."
The three by Brown was the first of five straight hit by the Bears, who went 0-for-12 from beyond the arc against Oregon in Eugene. Jabari Bird in particular could do no wrong, going 4-of-7 from three-point range in the first half, and ecclipsing his season high of 17 points midway through the second.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1642009-bill-walton-plays-... "We got a big dub against the best team in the conference at home, and we look to keep this going Saturday against Oregon State," Bird said.
Bird finished with a career-high-tying 24 points, putting the exclamation point on the win with a one-handed reverse jam with 33 seconds left, while his fellow wing, Jordan Mathews -- who went 0-for-8 from the floor and 0-for-4 from three in his last outing agiainst Oregon -- went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
"He hit his first three three-pointers, and that helped us jump out, then he was able to get into the mid-range and knock down shots, and he was able to get to the rim -- that's what we need from Jabari every day," Wallace said.
Cal's defense was stifling, as the Bears switched crisply off of Oregon's attackers, keeping them at the perimeter for much of the first half, out-scoring the Ducks in the paint, 18-6 and neutralizing Christopher Boucher, who went 2-of-4 before the break.
"We talk about hands high when they catch the ball high, and man-on-man, everybody has to do their job," Martin said. "When they attack, especially with Elgin Cook and Dillon Brooks, guys who are 6-5, 6-7, coming downhill, that's a hard thing to deal with for 40 minutes in a game, but our guys took pride in that, and accepted that challenge."
At the half, Cal led by 18 points -- the largest deficit that Oregon, which came in at No. 1 overall in the RPI, had faced all season, with the next-highest being a 15-point hill to climb against rival Oregon State in a loss on Jan. 3.
On the Ducks' second offensive possession of the second half, Kingsley Okoroh rejected Boucher on the left block, leading to a Bird and Rabb break, ending with a two-handed jam for Rabb, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1642012-bttv-martin-talks-...Cal was particularly good on the break and in transition, aggressively attacking Oregon's lackluster first-half press to great effect.
In the second, the Ducks were the aggressor on defense, pushing deeper into the back court with their press, but the Bears found the gas pedal when they needed it, with junior Sam Singer corraling a 50-50 rebound and running the break with Wallace off a three miss from Dwayne Benjamin. Wallace laid it in easily.
Singer had more assists (7) in the first half than the entire Oregon team (4), and until a late flurry, had more first-half assists than the Ducks had field goals. He tied his career high with nine assists with 3:27 left in the game, to only two turnovers. He set that high last week against Stanford. He then assisted on a Brown three, and Bird's jam, giving him a career-high 11. He also had six points and five rebounds.
"11 assists?!" Bird marveled.
"He's always looking to make plays for others," Wallace said of Singer. "Jabari catching fire, that made Sam's job easy. If we can get that every game, that's big for us, with Jabari knocking down shots, and Jordan knocking down shots. I thought he did a good job running the team today."
"Nine assists, eight assists, 11 assists, that's impressive, and Sam can still run the offense while Tyrone scores the ball," Martin said of Singer.
Wallace showed less and less rust as the game went on, and with just over 3:30 to go, and the Bears taking their time, running the shot clock down to eight seconds, Wallace drove the lane and spun, but found himself under the basket with no room to shoot. Before falling out of bounds, he alertly shoveled the ball to a waiting Brown, who laid it in to give the Bears a 76-57 lead.
With Wallace exiting with under two minutes to go, Brown nailed a three off the kick by Singer, giving the junior from Miami, Fla., a career-high 10 helpers. Brown then got with the steal and the coast-to-coast lay-in, starting the "OVER-RATED" chants at Haas.
The Bears finished the night with a 46-22 advantage in the paint, and pulled down 12 offensive rebounds on 30 chances, limiting the Ducks to eight offensive rebounds, and turning the ball over 11 times -- far below their 12.9-turnover average over the last five games.
"The sky's the limit," said Wallace, of Cal's defense, which forced two shot clock violations, and held Oregon to 10-of-28 shooting in the first half. "We hav eto continue to bring that effort and intensity on the defensive end, so we can continue to get out on the break and get those open shots."
Martin stopped short of saying this was the Bears' best win.
"Outside of that stretch, that three-minute stretch, where we turned the ball over, we played alright," he said. "This is how we need to win; we need to play like a unit. If we defend, we'll be fine. We had 20 assists and 11 turnovers, made good decisions, make it an inside-out game, and I thought we defended. If we defend at a high level, we have a chance to win games."