Neville E. Guard / USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Cal and Stanford re-ignite their rivalry on Friday

Cal returns to the Bay Area for a bout with Stanford, which has majored in turning teams over as of late.

The last time California (18-7, 9-4 in Pac-12) and Stanford (12-13, 4-9) tussled, the two teams combined for 15 turnovers and only 19 baskets in the first half, and made just four of their first 19 combined shots. It was ugly. The Bears finished that game with 13 turnovers, off of which the Cardinal scored 19 points. It was seven points scored by then-No. 9 Arizona on six first-half turnovers that swung momentum permanently in the Wildcats' direction when Cal visited Tucson on Saturday.

Guess what Stanford does best.

The Cardinal have forced 70 turnovers over their last four games against Colorado (23), Utah (17, Arizona (13) and Arizona State (17). Led by senior guard Marcus Allen's nine steals, Stanford has recorded 36 swipes in the last four games. The 40 combined forced turnovers against Colorado and Utah was the most in a two-game stretch in conference play in more than 12 years, since the Cardinal forced 41 against USC (21 turnovers on Jan. 22, 2005) and UCLA (20 turnovers on Jan. 20, 2005). Stanford ranks second in the Pac-12 in steals (6.6 per game), and turns teams over at a 20.9% rate on defense -- 51st in the nation. Over the last five games, opponents have turned the ball over an average of 16.4 times per game -- 22.2% of their possessions. 

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1755353-martin-talks-charl... "They've done a great job with their transition offense," said head coach Cuonzo Martin. "They've really done a great job of really getting out quickly," Martin said. "Watching their game against Arizona State, I thought they did a tremendous job, just getting the ball out quick. We have to do a really good job setting our defense, because they're doing an exceptional job of getting out." 

On the trip to the desert, Cal faced two teams in Arizona and Arizona State which are worse than Stanford in turning teams over -- 203rd (18.3%) and 159th (19.0%), respectively, in the nation. Friday's game -- at 7 p.m., at Maples Pavilion, on FS1 -- won't be a picnic.

"I think what they do, they get out in the passing lanes," said Martin. "I think with Marcus Allen, he's good at [...] he's very quick. He's a guy who swoops down on the ball fast, and you have to watch him. Other guys -- Reid Travis -- he's a mobile big guy. Even though he plays center for them, he's a mobile guy, especially when you've got slower bigs that he's defending. [Michael] Humphrey's a guy that can move on the perimeter, as well, so they have guys that have good length, and they anticipate very well, just in watching them on film."

Cal's turnovers have gone down since entering Pac-12 play, on average 15.3% of possessions per game, in large part thanks to the development and maturation of freshman point guard Charlie Moore. Before entering conference play, Moor ha averaged 4.2 assists to 2.9 turnovers per game. Before that, Moore averaged 3.2 assists to 3.3 turnovers per game. Moore only played 12 minutes against Arizona, thanks to an injury to his hip and lower back.

"He was fine in practice. We'll see, come game time. He was fine in practice. He didn't have any limitations, so we'll see," Martin said, when asked whether Moore would be available to play against the Cardinal. "[Tuesday] was a contact practice but he was non-contact and they kept him out. [Wednesday] was his first live practice."

Given that the Bears are 307th in the nation in adjusted tempo, possessions -- and therefore, scoring chances -- are at a premium. Stanford, on the other hand, is 127th -- not fast, by any means, but significantly faster than Cal, which has to find a way to prevent Stanford from getting multiple shots, and run-outs.

"I think rebounding is a huge thing for us," said guard Grant Mullins. "I think keeping other teams limited to one shot is huge. Offensively, I think we're going to be OK, but it's just on the defensive end, limiting them to one shot, and not letting them get such easy looks."

Rebounding will be the task of the Bears' big men, Ivan RabbKingsley Okoroh and Kameron Rooks. Cal has only been out-rebounded three times this season -- twice against the Wildcats (Dec. 30, Feb. 11) and once in a win over Utah (Feb. 2).

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1755346-bttv-grant-mullins... The Bears out-rebounded the Cardinal 35-28 on Jan. 29, with Rabb grabbing 13 and scoring 25. In that game, the 6-foot-8, 245-pound Travis -- the only Pac-12 player to rank in the top-six in the league in scoring and rebounding -- was coming off a stretch where he'd played in just two of the previous six games, thanks to various injuries. He only pulled down five boards, but over the last two games, he's averaging 11.0 rebounds. He's also picked up is scoring, averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his four games since returning against the Bears.

"They're a different team when Reid Travis is on the floor," Martin said. "When you go that many games without a guy of that magnitude, it's hard to get into a true flow. Even though they've done a great job of battling and competing as a team, they're a different team when he's on the floor."

While Rabb will have to once again contend with the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Humphrey -- owing to his ability to stretch out to the perimeter (he's 14-for-53 in his three-year career) -- that will leave Okoroh and Rooks to guard the interior against Travis, who's posted double-doubles in each of the last two games (26 points, 11 rebounds at Arizona; 17 points, 11 rebounds at ASU).

"I think they match up well, as well as we match up with those guys," Martin said. "I think Ivan and Humphrey, both of those guys are mobile perimeter guys. I think Reid Travis is obviously a little quicker than Kameron and Kingsley, but they have more lengthy. It's just which guy imposes their will best."

Can Rabb impose his will? So far, he's done it rarely, but his game against Stanford in January was one of those times. Rabb has recorded 13 double-doubles this season, but he's been held to single digits in both points and rebounds four times, including four points and three rebounds on Saturday against Arizona.

While Martin has said that he wants Rabb to be the focal point of the offense, his usage rage this season (24%) is barely higher than his usage rage last year (20%), and that was with two ball stoppers in the starting lineup, in Tyrone Wallace and Jaylen Brown.

"I think what happens is, they know, just like every team we play, [that] Ivan is a focal part of our offense. We're going through Ivan," Martin said. "That's understood, now. It's just a matter of how you defend it. Get him the ball in different ways so that he can be effective and be successful. More importantly, it's the other guys. Ivan knows what he has to do to get the ball, but if he's seeing a double, then other guys have to step up and make shots and make plays. You get to a point where they defend him one-on-one, in most cases, those are the results. He can make plays and he can make stuff happen. If they double him, other guys have to step up, make shots and make plays."

Notebook

  • Cal leads the all-time series with the Cardnal, 146-120.
  • In the most recent game played at Stanford, the Cardinal won 77-71 win on Jan. 14, 2016. Stanford is 66-62 all-time against the Bears at home, and has won 20 of the last 23 games against the Bears on The Farm. Only senior Grant Verhoeven has played in a loss to Cal at Maples Pavilion (Jan. 2, 2014).    
  • Allen has been one of the Cardinal’s leaders on both ends of the floor over the last eight games. He is averaging 12.5 points per game (second on the team), and leads Stanford in steals (16), while ranking second in assists (21). After averaging 4.4 points over his first 17 games, Allen is averaging more than eight points better per game in his last eight.
  • Allen is 3-of-5 (.600) from three-point range in Stanford’s last three games, after starting the season 5-of-32 (.156) in the first 22 games.
  • Allen has 14 steals in the last six games, moving to fourth in the Pac-12 in steals per game (1.7) during Pac-12 play.
  • Allen's 112 career steals puts him into a tie with Wolfe Perry (1975-79) for 12th on Stanford’s career steals list.
  • Junior two-guard Dorian Pickens has posted at least one three-pointer in 22 games, with multiple three-pointers in 14. Pickens has hit 11 three-pointers in his last four games, and is shooting 37.3% from beyond the arc, with a team-best 47 threes.
  • Junior Robert Cartwright has taken over as the starting point guard for Stanford over the last nine games. He now ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in assists (4.2) during conference play, and is sixth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1) on the season.


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