BERKELEY — As can regularly be the case, it took a little while for Ivan Rabb to get into attack mode on Sunday.
Cal’s best player took one shot over the first 12 minutes of the Bears’ 66-55 win over rival Stanford on Sunday, but foul trouble for Reid Travis, the Cardinal’s best player, opened up some space for Rabb inside and he took advantage of it.
Over the next two minutes after Travis departed, Rabb caught and finished an alley-oop and completed a layup through a foul, prompting a Dikembe Mutombo-esque wag of his finger.
— Cal Men’s Basketball (@calmensbball) January 30, 2017
“Actually my game plan was to come out aggressive early. The ball wasn’t coming my way at first, but guys were getting good shots, so I can’t complain about that,” the 19-year-old forward said. “I think the and-one picked it up for me … I was just trying to play the game the right way.”
It didn’t matter who he faced in the second half, though, when he made several plays that will go on his highlight reel. Meanwhile, Stanford lacked the offensive firepower to make it a contest. Rabb finished with 25 points on nine shots and the Cardinal shot 39 percent from the floor, sealing the deal for Cal for its second-straight win over its rival.
“I thought I was doing well on [Rabb] in the first half, then he started getting looks, he got confidence as he was getting good looks and that’s what good players do,” Travis said. “We just have to do a better job of taking leading scorers out of the game.”
First-year Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said the halftime adjustment of focusing on taking away 3-point shooters backfired as Cal countered by attacking the paint and finding Rabb around the basket. Charlie Moore did most of the distributing, throwing a career-high eight assists.
The win gives the Bears a 6-3 record in the Pac-12 at the midpoint of the conference season. The young team is better than they were at this point last year, when they finished the season on an 8-1 run after a lackluster first half.