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Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird, Cal basketball small lineup whips Australia CoE 94-86

Cal goes small to get their third victory.

Cal basketball at Sydney Opera House
Cal basketball at Sydney Opera House
Cal men's basketball Twitter

The California Golden Bears used a dominant second quarter to blow past the Australia Centre of Excellence on their way to a 94-86 victory. Cal outscored CoE 37-14 by the second quarter and went on a 60-30 run between the middle of the first quarter and the end of the third quarter to widen their lead to 25.

Cal improves to 3-0 on their Australia exhibition tour, beating Victoria Select (recap) and Frankston (recap) to start. Their final matchup is against the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League tomorrow night at 11 p.m. (that game is supposed to be streamed, so come back to CGB tomorrow night!).

Cal made a slight change to their lineup by starting Jabari Bird, and he led the way for Cal with 19 points (8-13 FGs) and five rebounds. Ivan Rabb had 15 points and 12 rebounds (and an incredible 8 offensive boards), Tyrone Wallace added 17 points (6-9 FGs), Jaylen Brown put in 16 points, and had three of assists, rebounds, and steals, and Jordan Mathews put in 10 points.

Cal really got going after the Bears went to a small ball lineup when Kingsley Okoroh picked up two fouls in the first minute and Kameron Rooks picked up two more fouls in the next three minutes. Cal played mostly Rabb at center the rest of the half, and the Bears started taking off when they went to those small lineups. Occasionally Cal played with a bunch of wings and abandoned big men altogether, with Brown and Roger Moute playing as the "two bigs". None of that stopped the Bears from taking control of the game and putting down the defensive clamps.

Australian CoE started the game 10-12 shooting in the first quarter to build a 31-29 lead, but shot 4-12 the rest of the first half against a more determined Cal defense. Rabb got ten points in the second quarter (all on offensive rebound putbacks, with Bird scoring eight points, and Wallace and Brown each chipped in six.

Centre of Excellence got destroyed on the boards, outrebounded 46-21. Cal had as many OFFENSIVE boards (21) as CoE had total boards, with Rabb for a time outrebounding the entire CoE team.

Cal is probably not going to want to look at the tape of that fourth quarter too closely. They rested most of their starters for most of the final stanza to prepare for tomorrow's game, and the Bears were outscored 18-2 to start the fourth to see their 85-60 lead cut to 87-78 with 3:22 left. Cal had to bring Rabb, Bird and Mathews back in to keep things stable, and Jabari scored the final five points to keep the Centre of Excellence at arm's length.

Click here for the live stats. More notes below.

  • Good news: Cal had its best free throw shooting night so far, hitting 20 of 26 from the charity stripe. Brown (6 for 9), Mathews (6 for 6), Wallace (4 for 4) and Bird (3 for 3) led the way for the Bears with improved freebies.
  • Jaylen Brown played a minute or two at center in that second quarter run. He played with Chauca, Wallace, Mathews, Domingo during that stretch, and the lineup briefly got smaller when Wallace came in for Singer. Cal kept the run going regardless.
  • Most of the Cal second quarter run came with Rabb at center, three of the five wings of Brown, Bird, Domingo, Mathews and occasionally Wallace, and a point guard (Wallace, Singer or Chauca). All hail small ball.
  • Bad news: The struggles from the three point line continued, shooting 4 of 15. Brandon Chauca nailed half of them, Stephen Domingo and Tyrone Wallace had one apiece.
  • Cal's three point defense wasn't too great either, as CoE bombed 10 of 21 from downtown and gave them an early lead and allowed them to come back from a 25 point deficit.
  • Mathews (2-8) and Sam Singer (0-5) had shooting nights to forget.
  • Here's the minutes distribution: Singer (24.5), Brown (23.5), Bird (23), Rabb (22.5), Wallace (19), Domingo (17), Mathews (17), Rooks (13), Moute (10.5), Okoroh (5.5)

Finally, some video highlights via Fallon Smith of Comcast Sports Net!

Brown drives and finishes in traffic.

Singer hustles to get Domingo a three.

Brown penetrates and finds Domingo for the flush.

Bird takes a charge and gets everyone fired up.

Rabb makes some moves in the post.

Wallace finds Rabb on the pick and roll and finishes over three defenders.

Bird alley-oop slam!