Cal wins season opener without injured star big man Ivan Rabb

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Cal opened its season with a win over South Dakota State on Friday night as the victory came without preseason All-American big man Ivan Rabb.

Rabb, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, sat out the game to rest a sprained toe that happened two weeks ago during a closed scrimmage with Saint Mary’s. According to a report from Jeff Faraudo of The Mercury News, Rabb was not cleared to play on Friday as the team is listing him as day-to-day.

“Hard to say when we expect him back. I don’t think he’ll be out long,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said to reporters after the win. “He’s been in practice but not contact.”

Without Rabb, Cal cruised to an 82-55 victory as they jumped out to an early 21-5 lead and never looked back. South Dakota State made it an eight-point game in the second half but the Golden Bears made another 30-3 run to close out strong.

It’s obvious to say that Cal is going to need Rabb to compete for the Pac-12 title this season but they have to be encouraged by how well their defense played without him. Holding any team to 11 minutes without a field goal is impressive and it looks like the Golden Bears might be a better defensive team than I thought.

When you also factor that freshman point guard Charlie Moore — who started on Friday — didn’t shoot very well, this Cal team can still make a lot of improvements going forward.