Rabb has career night to lift Cal past Louisiana Tech 68-59
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) His injured toe no longer a concern, California's Ivan Rabb is proving that his decision to put off the NBA for at least one year was a good one.
The Golden Bears are certainly glad he stayed.
Rabb scored five of his career-high 25 points in overtime and California held on to beat Louisiana Tech 68-59 on Wednesday night.
All of Rabb's points in overtime came on free throws after the Golden Bears didn't go to the line at all in the second half. Rabb shot 9 of 12 and added a season-high 13 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double after missing two games with a toe injury.
''We're feeding him,'' California center Kingsley Okoroh said. ''Last year we didn't look for him as much. This year we need him to score, we need him to step up. He's doing well what needs to be done.''
California made only one basket in overtime – Grant Mullins' 3-pointer – but went 8 of 12 on free throws while holding Louisiana Tech to two points.
Rabb led the way in overtime but also gave the Bears a lift with 16 points in the first half. That was an emphasis after he got off to sluggish starts in the previous three games.
''My goal today was to put two halves together because every game it seemed like it's just been one half,'' Rabb said. ''I wasn't thinking too much. I was just letting the game come to me and I think that really benefited us as a whole.''
Kingsley Okoroh had nine points, 12 rebounds and matched his career-high with five blocks as California (5-1) extended its winning streak at Haas Pavilion to 24 – two shy off the school record and tied with Virginia for the sixth-longest active streak in the nation. Charlie Moore added 19 points.
Erik McCree had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Louisiana Tech (3-3) after going scoreless in the first half. Derric Jean added 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
''We were right up there until the very end,'' Bulldogs coach Eric Konkol said. ''We need to build on this so we aren't in the same situation again.''
California fed off Rabb's fast start and held a nine-point lead with 2:13 left in the first half before Louisiana Tech scored seven straight to pull within 31-29 at halftime.
''I thought it would be, I didn't think it would be that tough,'' Bears coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''They really made us work for shots. (Rabb) did a good job of staying aggressive, staying active, staying locked in.''
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs showed some grit in taking the game to overtime after it looked like they were on the verge of being blown out early. Shooting 18 of 66 (27.3 percent) won't make it an easy pill to swallow, either. The good news is that the big three – McCree, Jacobi Boykins and Jean – continue to get to the basket fairly easily. The bad news is that redshirt senior Qiydar Davis might have suffered a season-ending knee injury.
California: This is one that Martin can't be completely pleased with. The offense ran smoothly as long as Rabb was on the court but Cal went stagnant whenever he was on the bench. Rabb's performance is a good sign for the Bears because he'll be spending additional time in the post now that backup center Kameron Rooks is out for at least a month following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier Wednesday. Okoroh will get extended minutes, too, until Rooks returns.
DAVIS DONE AGAIN?
Davis' season is in doubt after the redshirt senior appeared to injure his right knee early in the second half. Davis, who is playing on a medical redshirt waiver this season after suffering an MCL injury in 2015, had to be helped off the court in the first half before going down again with just over 15 minutes left to play.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs return home to host Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday night.
California: Hosts Alcorn State on Saturday before heading to Hawaii to play Princeton and Seton Hall in the Pearl Harbor Invitational.