Cal Bears Basketball Team Makes the List in Second AP Poll

Oct 21, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cal senior guard Jabari Bird and head coach Cuonzo Martin during Pac-12 men
Oct 21, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cal senior guard Jabari Bird and head coach Cuonzo Martin during Pac-12 men /

The Cal Bears used a season-opening rout of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits to propel themselves into the second week of the AP’s Top-25 rankings. After being unranked during the preseason edition, the Bears find themselves sitting 25th in week two.

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The first half of Friday’s opener at Haas Pavilion didn’t start off great for the Cal Bears, but the second half was all Golden as they ran away from their Summit Conference opponents. Cal’s lead was as large as 35 in the second half before the whistle blew on a 29-point win.

That was a promising win for Cal not only because of the score, but also because they did it without their star forward, Ivan Rabb. The 6’10” 19-year-old sat out because of a sprained toe, but his teammates more than picked up the slack.

There were contributions from up and down the team. Roger Moute a Bidias scored a career-high 12, while Sam Singer scored 14, the second-highest total of his career. Graduate transfer Grant Mullins scored 13 in his Bears’ debut, while returning senior Jabari Bird dropped 14 while hitting four three-pointers.

The Bears out-rebounded the Jackrabbits 54 to 26, recorded 10 blocks to SDSU’s one, and held the opponent to 28.6 percent field goal shooting.

That kind of contribution up and down the lineup will be paramount, whether Rabb is in the game or not. As Cal continues their trek through the non-conference schedule, they have a good chance for players to get more and more used to playing with each other. Building that chemistry and furthering their development as a team will keep Cal in the Pac-12 race.

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Cal is ranked for the second straight season, the first time that’s happened since 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 under head coach Mike Montgomery. Last year under Cuonzo Martin, Cal was ranked 14th in the preseason polls, which was as high as they would be ranked all season. The Bears were on the first three editions of the poll, and the final three as well. They finished the season ranked 23rd.

Three other Pac-12 teams are in this week’s rankings. The Oregon Ducks lead the conference, sitting in fourth, followed by the Arizona Wildcats at 10 and the UCLA Bruins at 16. Also, Oregon State Beavers’  forward Tres Tinkle was named the first Pac-12 Player of the Week after averaging 23 points and 13.5 rebounds in a pair of wins.

Next: Bears Run Away with Huge Second Half

Cal’s season continues on Wednesday when they host the UC-Irvine Anteaters at Haas Pavilion. Against the Big West foe, Cal is 6-2 in eight games all time.