Rabb helps California strengthen standing in Pac-12
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Ivan Rabb still hasn’t decided whether or not to declare for the NBA draft or return to California for a third season.
Just the same, the 20-year-old sophomore was in no hurry to leave the court while savoring the atmosphere and the cheers at Haas Pavilion.
”I’m not sure what’s going to happen but I definitely wanted to take my time coming off the court, slap hands with the fans, take pictures with people,” said Rabb following California’s 76-46 win over Oregon State on Friday night. ”Soak in the moment regardless. It’s our last home game so I just wanted to enjoy it.”
Rabb scored 16 points with nine rebounds, Charlie Moore added 11 points while Sam Singer scored 14 on 7-of-7 shooting as the Golden Bears (19-9, 10-6 Pac-12) snapped a three-game losing streak and strengthened their hold on fourth place.
The Bears got off to a slow start but used a 20-3 run to pull away in the first half then rode a 16-5 run early in the second half to go up 55-35 on a night when California honored its five seniors in their final regular-season home game at Haas Pavilion.
It very well might have been Rabb’s last game there, too.
The 6-foot-11-inch, 220-pound sophomore is being looked at as a potential first-round pick in next year’s NBA draft. Rabb has not publicly announced a decision but recently hinted that it was a good possibility that he would leave college and turn pro.
Rabb’s game was typical of so many of his since he entered California as a blue chip prospect from nearby Oakland. He shot 6 of 11, made two dunks off lob passes and fell one rebound shy of his 27th career double-double while helping the Bears control both ends of the court.
Cal bounced back nicely, two days after blowing a 10-point late and losing on a buzzer-beater to No. 6 Oregon.
”They took the game from us so this game we wanted to kind of try to take it out on somebody else,” Rabb said. ”This was the first game in a long time where once we got going, we played the entire game.”
Jabari Bird added three dunks, including a pair of emphatic one-handers, as California led by as many as 34 while beating Oregon State for the ninth time in the last 11 games between the two teams.
”We just settled in and tightened up the screws defensively,” Bears coach Cuonzo Martin said.
The Bears won despite struggling from the perimeter. They went just 2 of 13 beyond the arc and shot only 47.5 percent from the floor.
Kendal Manuel scored 14 points and Stephen Thompson Jr. added 12 for Oregon State.
The Beavers (5-25, 1-16) had an early seven-point lead before California went on its first big run.
LOOKING FOR A BYE
California moved a full game ahead of Utah in the race for fourth place in the Pac-12 with two games remaining. The two teams play on March 2 in Salt Lake City where a win would secure fourth place outright for the Bears, along with the important first-round bye that comes with it. ”It’s important if you’re trying to win the conference tournament,” Martin said. ”Not that it’s impossible if you don’t get it, but when you’re talking fresh legs and giving you the best chance to win games, that’s why it’s important.”
Oregon State: This one got out of hand early and it didn’t help that the Beavers had another poor night shooting. Coach Wayne Tinkle, who remains one win shy of 200 for his career, tried multiple combinations but it didn’t seem to matter on a night when Oregon State made only 17 baskets.
California: The Bears got off to a slow start and missed their first seven 3-pointers. At one point they were shooting just 25 percent overall but still led. At this stage of the season, style points matter a bit more than they do earlier in the year but this was a game Cal had to have to keep its NCAA hopes alive.
Oregon State: The Beavers return to Corvallis to close out the season with a rivalry game against No. 6 Oregon on March 4.
California: The Bears go on the road for their final two Pac-12 games beginning at Utah on March 2.