UC Santa Barbara-California Preview
Tyrone Wallace was among the Pac-12 leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists last season, and while his numbers were just as impressive in California's opener, it seems he's going to have plenty of help this season.
The 15th-ranked Golden Bears play the second of a season-opening four-game homestand Monday night against UC Santa Barbara, likely hoping their freshmen can stay on the floor a little longer after intriguing debuts were abbreviated by foul trouble.
Wallace, the 6-foot-5 senior guard who averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season, had 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists in Friday's 97-65 win over Rice. He was 9 of 12 from the field, and is probably the right guy to be leading a team that coach Cuonzo Martin pushes to share the basketball. Cal shot 50.7 percent and 43.5 from 3-point range, limited Rice to 36.7 percent and had 16 assists against seven turnovers.
"Pass the ball, get your teammates involved. They know what it means,'' said Martin after opening his second season at Cal. "When you have good players you don't need a lot of plays when you share the basketball."
Wallace is one of three returning starters along with fellow guards Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews, and they're joined by freshmen forwards Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown. They all had at least 11 points.
Brown had something of an erratic debut with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting while picking up four fouls in 15 minutes. The 6-11 Rabb finished with 14 points on 6 of 8 with 13 rebounds in just 16 minutes. Seven of those came on the offensive glass.
"He's one of those guys you'd describe as a natural rebounder - 13 rebounds in 16 minutes, he goes and he rebounds," Martin said. "I can only imagine when he continues to get strength on his body the rebounder he'll become."
Cal has won 10 of its last 11 against unranked nonconference opponents, while UC Santa Barbara has lost its last six to the Top 25 by an average of 16.2 points. Cal has won at least its first two games for the last eight seasons.
The Gauchos, however, won the last meeting with Cal 72-65 in Santa Barbara on Dec. 6, 2013, but it stands as their only victory in 10 all-time meetings. That Golden Bears' loss came despite Mathews, then a freshman, scoring 22 points off the bench.
The Gauchos got by in their opener without top returning scorer and rebounder Michael Bryson, beating Omaha 60-59 on Friday. John Green scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Eric Childress scored on a tip-in with three seconds left to put a positive spin on a sloppy team effort.
The concern for coach Bob Williams was his team's 20 turnovers and 10 assists, which is likely to turn ugly against Cal if repeated. The Gauchos also shot 34.9 percent and went 4 for 22 from 3-point range.
"You don't usually win a game when you have 20 turnovers and 10 assists," Williams told the team's official website. "Usually you need that to be the other way around, but both teams had problems with that tonight. In the end, although they shot a lot more free throws than us (35-16), we took more field goals than they did (63-49) and that was the difference."
Bryson, who was suspended one game for playing in a non-sanctioned summer league game in July, averaged 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds as a junior.