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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.”

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Basketball: Cal vs. Syracuse game thread

UPDATED

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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Football alums: Aaron Rodgers has another huge day

Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers continued his red-hot play Sunday, throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers’ 53-20 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Including last week’s 55-14 win over Chicago, Rodgers has gone 40 for 63 for 656 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in two weeks.

He has thrown 29 touchdown passes since his most recent interception in a home game, dating back to the 2012 season.

Elsewhere . . .

– Marshawn Lynch rushed 24 times for 124 yards in Seattle’s 24-20 loss at Kansas City.

– C.J. Anderson had eight catches for 86 yards and nine rushes for 29 yards in Denver’s loss to the Rams. Over the past two weeks, Anderson has totaled 278 yards rushing and receiving.

– Keenan Allen caught eight passes for 63 yards in San Diego’s win over Oakland.

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Basketball: Cal vs. Kennesaw St game thread

Click here for a photo slideshow courtesy of D. Ross Cameron: http://photos.mercurynews.com/2014/11/16/photos-california-men-romp-over-kennsaw-state-93-59/#1

*****

After an easy victory Sunday over the alma mater of Ryan Seacrest, the Cal basketball team travels to New York City this week to take on a program that produced Carmelo Anthony.

The Golden Bears improved to 2-0 with a 93-59 win over Kennesaw State in front of an announced crowd of 4,944 at Haas Pavilion in the 2K Classic on Sunday evening. Now the Bears step up in class with a Thursday matchup against No. 23 Syracuse (2-0) in the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Cal is playing the Orange for the fourth time in six seasons, including the third year in a row. Syracuse beat the Bears 92-81 in Maui last season, 66-60 in the NCAA tournament at San Jose the year before, and 95-73 at the Garden early in the 2009-10 season.

Kennesaw, which lost by 47 points at Syracuse two nights earlier, provided the Bears little challenge. Cal was sluggish offensively early, but held the Owls scoreless for nearly 5 minutes to open the game, then stretched out to a 41-15 halftime advantage.

“I thought we got off to a slow start. I didn’t think we played California basketball the first 10-12 minutes of the game,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “Too much one on one weren’t making the extra pass.

“They settled down and played the way they are capable.”

The margin reached 35 points after consecutive 3-pointers by Jordan Mathews and Dwight Tarwater pushed the score to 55-20 with just over 16 minutes left.

Point guard Tyrone Wallace, who scored a career-high 22 in the Friday opener against Alcorn State, had another solid all-around game with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Mathews had 16 points to go with seven rebounds, Jabari Bird added 15 points and seven rebounds and Tarwater scored 10.

The Bears understand Syracuse and its long, aggressive 2-3 zone defense will present a much more difficult test.

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Basketball: Bears aim for second 2K Classic win

Fresh off a 91-57 win over Alcorn State in its opening game Friday night, Cal takes on Kennesaw State in its second game of the 2K Classic on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Owls arrive in Berkeley after suffering an 89-42 loss Friday night at Syracuse.

And they will take on the Bears without coach Jimmy Lallathin, serving a one-game suspension for NCAA rules violations.

Cal is a 24.5-point favorite to beat the alma mater of Ryan Seacrest.

Kennesaw was just 6-25 a year ago, including two wins over non-Division I foes, and finished last in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Lallathin was installed as head coach midway through last season.

The Owls return all five starters from that team, but were overwhelmed by Syracuse, which Cal faces on Thursday in the 2K semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse forced the Owls into 25 turnovers and held them to 33-percent shooting. Kennesaw State was outscored 50-14 in the paint and was outrebounded 56-26.

Cal jumped out to a 15-0 lead over Alcorn in coach Cuonzo Martin’s debut and led by as many as 40 points. Six Cal players scored in double figures for the Bears, led by junior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who had a career-high 22.

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Basketball: Busy night as curtain lifts on Pac-12

It wasn’t just Cal that enjoyed a big basketball opening night.

The Pac-12 went 10-1 on Friday night, with only USC abstaining. Some notable performances by familiar names, and some impressive debuts.

Here’s a rundown:

* No. 2 Arizona got 21 points from East Bay native Brandon Ashley in its 78-55 win over Mount St. Mary’s. Ashley, who missed the second half of last season after breaking his foot in a loss at Cal, shot 9 for 10 and played perhaps the best game of his career, according to coach Sean Miller.

* Stanford posted a 74-59 win over returning NCAA tournament team Wofford, despite an off-shooting night from star guard Chasson Randle. Didn’t matter because senior center Stefan Nastic scored a career-high 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Dating back to last season, Nastic is shooting 84.4 percent (!!!) from the floor on 38 for 45 and averaging 11.9 points per game over the past eight games. He is, without question, the most improved player — from freshman to senior season – in the Pac-12.

* Oregon lost just about everyone else from last season’s roster, but returning guard Joseph Young scored 32 points and got plenty of help in a 107-65 rout of Chicago State.

* UCLA had three players taken in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft, but point guard Bryce Alford delivered 18 points and 12 assists and backcourt mate Norman Powell added 25 points in a 113-78 win over Montana State. Freshman forward Kevon Looney made a splash in his debut with 20 points and nine rebounds, and got to the free throw line for 17 attempts.

* Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds and Washington dispatched South Carolina State 77-59.

* Utah point guard Delon Wright is another guy who fills in all the categories — had 13 points, eight assists, four rebounds, four steals and three blocks — in a 90-72 win over Ball State. Freshman 7-footer Jakob Poeltl of Vienna, Austria, provided 18 points and 10 rebounds.

* The son of The Glove, Gary Payton II, had six points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in his first game as Oregon State beat Rice 67-54 in coach Wayne Tinkle’s debut.

* Colorado sat three starters to open the game, but Josh Scott had 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 65-48 conquest of Drexel.

* Arizona State rode 20 points from Shaquielle McKissick to an 86-50 win over Chicago State.

*  A tough start as coach at Washington State for Ernie Kent, whose squad lost 65-52 at Texas-El Paso. The only Pac-12 team that played on the road, the Cougars had more turnovers (22) than baskets (19). Ouch.