Basketball: Cal vs. Cal Poly game thread

Jabari Bird said his mandate from the Cal coaching staff is not to shoot more, but to be aggressive.

“Stay in attack mode,” the sophomore guard said after scoring a season-high 18 points in the Bears’ 72-52 win over Cal Poly on Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,712.

Bird scored just six points in the first half, but led the way with 12 after intermission as the Bears (4-1) pulled away from a Cal Poly team determined to milk the clock and keep Cal out of its transition game.

Bird, the former McDonald’s All-American from Salesian High, finished the game with just 10 shot attempts.

“I always want him to be aggressive,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “You have to be sound. Be in attack mode. Make the right decisions. Not let the defense speed you up. Be in control.

“He’s getting better, he’s getting a lot better. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Point guard Tyrone Wallace contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Jordan Mathews scored 17 for the Bears, who might still have been out of sorts a bit after flying back from New   York City last weekend, Martin said.

“I just felt like even in practice guys were a step slow. I felt it myself,” said Martin, whose team beat then No. 23 Syracuse before losing to No. 7 Texas at Madison Square Garden. “It’s good to get this one out of the way.”

The Mustangs (2-2), who blitzed through the Big West tournament to earn an unexpected NCAA tournament bid last season,  stayed close for 30 minutes by maintaining a slow offensive tempo and working to keep Cal out of transition.

“We knew those guys would compete,” Martin said. “They force you to make plays, they double the post. They got their defense back so we couldn’t get easy transition baskets.”

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Basketball: Freshman Chauca cleared as of Dec. 1

Cal got word from the NCAA on Tuesday that freshman guard Brandon Chauca has received eligibility certification and is cleared to play in games beginning Dec. 1. He is expected to play in his first game Dec. 3 against Montana.

Chauca has missed the first four games and will sit out both Wednesday’s home game against Cal Poly and Sunday’s game at Fresno State. He received his clearance following a penalty of sitting out 20 percent of the schedule.

Cal did not specify the reason certification took so long for Chauca, who attended four during schools during his high school years.

Here is coach Cuonzo Martin’s statement:

“Brandon Chauca has been practicing with the team and will be eligible to participate officially in game activity as of December 1, 2014. We have worked with the NCAA regarding an eligibility certification issue that has since been resolved. We look forward to having Brandon able to compete with us as we move through the season.”

Martin said he intends to play Chauca, not redshirt the 5-foot-9 native of Alexandria, Virginia.


Basketball: Bears back home to face Cal Poly

Back after a split of two games in New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Golden Bears (3-1) take on Cal Poly (2-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Haas Pavilion. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal knocked off then-23rd-ranked Syracuse 73-59 before absorbing a 71-55 loss to a Texas team that climbed to No. 7 in this week’s AP Top-25.

“I thought it was a good trip,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We would have liked to win two games, but the reality is we played solid basketball.”

Junior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 13 points and 5 assists in the 2K Classic games, said the experience will pay dividends.

“I think it definitely does give us confidence to know that when we’re playing well, we can play with any team,” Wallace said.

Sophomore guard Jordan Mathews stopped short of suggesting the Bears got validation from their win over Syracuse, which had beaten Cal the previous two seasons.

“I’m always confident in my team. I thought this was a step towards us being really good,” Mathews said. He said the Bears learned “how good we can be and the level of intensity you have to play with every night.”

Cal Poly was the Cinderella story of the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Mustangs finished the regular season at 10-19, then reeled off three straight wins in the Big West tournament to claim the league’s automatic bid.

They beat Texas Southern in a “First Four” game at Dayton, Ohio, then were vanquished by top seed Wichita State, 64-37. Two starters return from that team, but nine players who totaled 22 points against the Shockers will be in uniform Wednesday night.


Football: BYU game set for 1:30 p.m. kickoff

Cal announced tonight that its game against BYU next Saturday at Memorial Stadium has been set for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal (5-6, 3-6 Pac-12) must beat the Cougars to become bowl eligible.

BYU (7-4) tuned up for the Cal game with a 64-0 win Saturday over Savannah State, an 0-12 FCS team that actually gave up 83 points in a game earlier this season.


Basketball: Cal vs. Texas game thread

FINAL SCORE: Texas 71, Cal 55. The Bears (3-1) battled, but simply could not cope with the Longhorns’ size and strength. Texas’ frontcourt players scored 45 points to 24 for the Bears’ counterparts. Kravish had 19 of those, despite foul trouble. Christian Behrens and Kingsley Okoroh, the Bears’ other two big men, combined for five points, two rebounds and nine fouls. Forward Jonathan Holmes had 21 points and 12 rebounds for 10th-ranked Texas (4-0).

Cal shot 32.3 percent (20-for-62) and didn’t get enough from its three guards to offset the Longhorns’ size. The Bears got a little more in transition in the second half, but Texas’ defense was strong start to finish. Tyrone Wallace’s energy fueled the Bears midway through the second half. He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but shot 5 for 15.

Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird, who combined for 38 points the night before against Syracuse, totaled 15 on 5 for 20 from the field.

Cal was outrebounded 44-34, had just nine assists and missed 10 free throws.

7:48 2nd H: Texas 54, Cal 42. Wallace scored nine straight Cal points at one stretch, but the Bears have no rhythm and little ball movement on offense. Behrens has fouled out. Texas keeping the Bears at arm’s length. Wallace and Kravish each with 13 points. Everyone else has combined for 16. Cal shooting 30 percent.

12:23 2nd H: Texas 43, Cal 36. Behrens just picked up his fourth foul and sits. Okoroh already with four.

13:30 2nd H:  Texas 43, Cal 36. Back-to-back baskets by hustling Ty Wallace and Cal staying in it. He has nine points, seven rebounds, four assists.

15:59 2nd H: Texas 38, Cal 29. Cal got within six points twice, most recently when Bird hit a pullup jumper to make it 35-29. But Kendal Yancy answered immediately with a 3-pointer and the lead is nine again.

HALFTIME: Texas 31, Cal 21. Too much Texas length and defense. The Bears are shooting 24.1 percent (7 for 29). Take away David Kravish, who is 4 for 9 and has 11 points, and the rest of the team is 3 for 20. Cal’s three guards, who got so many accolades after their excellent performance against Syracuse, have combined to shoot 3 for 15. The Bears cannot win with Wallace, Bird and Mathews held in check that way.

Texas owns a 27-18 rebounding edge, including eight offensive boards. Longhorns hardly burning up the nets — 11 for 32 for 34.4 percent –  but they are in charge. Points in the paint: Texas 14-4.

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Basketball: Texas point guard to miss Cal game

News from New York City: Texas star point guard Isaiah Taylor will miss Friday’s 2K Classic championship game against Cal because of a wrist injury he suffered with 2 minutes left in the semifinal win over Iowa.

The game at Madison Square Garden will begin at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

Dick Vitale, who is working the games for ESPN, reported the news via Twitter. Jeff Goodman of ESPN wrote that sources said Taylor will be sidelined for an extended period of time.

A native of Hayward, Taylor averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 assists as a freshman last season and is considered one of the nation’s top point guards. Taylor averaged 15.0 points through the Longhorns’ first three games.

Taylor is expected to be replaced in the lineup by Javan Felix, a 5-foot-11 junior who averages 9.0 points this season and scored 11.6 a game a year ago.

Despite the loss of Taylor, 10th-ranked Texas represents a huge challenge to the Bears. The Longhorns send out a starting frontline that goes 6-9, 285; 6-9, 240; 6-8, 240. Their top player is junior forward Jonathan Holmes, who averages 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds and is shooting 71 percent from the field.

The Longhorns also can go to a deep bench, led by 6-11, 240-pound freshman Myles Turner, one of the nation’s top recruits.

Vitale said Cal will need a strong game from its key players to upset the Longhorns.

“But California is so underrated,” Vitale said after the Bears’ 73-59 upset of No. 23 Syracuse. “No way, projected seventh in the Pac-12, they’re a seventh-place team. They’ll be in the upper part of that league, no doubt in my mind.”


Basketball: Cal vs. Syracuse game thread


FINAL SCORE: Cal 73,  Syracuse 59. Jordan Mathews scored 21 of 22 points in the second half and the Bears (3-0) knocked off the No. 23 Orange (2-1).

Cal faces No. 10 Texas (3-0) in Friday’s 2K Classic championship game at Madison Square Garden. (ESPN2, 4 p.m. PT)

An early signature victory for new coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team was totally prepared for everything Syracuse threw at them, and stayed poised late at the most famous arena in the world.

After three losses to Syracuse since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Bears get over the hump.

“We lost to them the past two years, and with guys that were returning it plays on your mind,” said Martin, the former Tennessee coach. “But I thought our guys did a great job of accepting the challenge.”

Senior forward David Kravish had a David Kravish game — smart and controlled, contributing in so many ways: 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots. Jabari Bird, after a tentative start, keyed the run late in the first half that gave Cal separation and finished with 16 points, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

“It’s a big win for our program,” Bird said. “We came out here, we’re not ranked. We’re kind of an underdog team that’s going up against a great team in Syracuse.  They put up a great fight and we got a great team `W’ tonight.”

Point guard Tyrone Wallace had four turnovers and was in too much of a hurry a couple times, but still had 10 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals. He will play better, but he was fine.

The Bears got a terrific contribution from their bench: 7 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals.

Sam Singer had eight assists, four rebounds and two steals — a very strong effort. Freshman Kingsley Okoroh, the 7-foot-1 center from Britain, had four points, five rebounds and a block, and never backed down. Looked like he belongs.

Syracuse tried to press late in the game, but Cal handled that, too.

“I thought they did a great job,” Martin said of the performance. “The thing we talked about is, let’s finish ballgames. Whatever happens when we left the Bay Area we wanted to get better. When we land back in the Bay, we wanted to be a better basketball team regardless of the outcome.

“I thought we got better in this game.”

Cal shot 46.4 percent, including 8 for 19 from 3-point range. The Bears had 22 assists on 26 baskets — excellent ball movement against the vaunted Syracuse zone most of the night. The Orange struggled offensively, shooting 35.9 percent, including 4 for 17 from beyond the arc.

“They showed up tonight and we didn’t,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said.

Texas will be a load — they are huge. But Cal appears ready to take on the challenge.

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Women’s basketball: Chris Dawson named to NCAA chair

Chris Dawson, former long-time athletic administrator at Cal, has been named to serve as chair for the 2015-16 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, charged with selecting and seeding the NCAA tournament field.

Currently an associate commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, also is serving her fourth year as a member of the NCAA committee. Dawson will succeed current chair Dru Hancock, senior associate commissioner for the Big 12 Conference. She will officially become the 17th chair of the committee on September 1, 2015.

“It’s an honor to be selected by my fellow committee members to serve in this role,” Dawson said. “I look forward to our continued work together to enhance the game and create memorable NCAA tournaments for student-athletes and fans alike.”

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Basketball: Bears in NYC with notion to win

The Cal basketball didn’t trek to New York City this week for the weather. The Bears want to test themselves against high-level competition, and they want to win.

Cal (2-0) takes on No. 23 Syracuse (2-0) on Thursday night for the third year in a row, in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.

“Having a good tournament in New York would be huge for us, kind of show us where we are,” Cal senior forward David Kravish said.

The Bears lost to Syracuse in the 2013 NCAA tournament at San Jose, then again last season at the Maui Invitational.

“I remember thinking we should have beat them both times,” Kravish said of the defeats by margins of six and 11 points. “You don’t go into the season hoping to do anything. You go in expecting to win. We’re not putting all this work in to finish last or to lose games.”

A win over the Orange would advance first-year Cal coach Cuonzo Martin’s team to the Friday championship game against either No. 10 Texas (2-0) or Iowa (2-0).

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