LAS VEGAS — Getting the ball to Reid Travis early is the key to Stanford’s offensive success. He gets a few baskets, the opposing team has to adjust and the Cardinal can play free and easy.
They sure did against rival Cal.
Travis triggered a quick start, finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and led Stanford in a 76-58 rout against Cal in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.
“Reid is always going to be a focal point of the defense, for good reason, because he’s a focal point of our offense as well,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “When he gets going, it certainly draws attention to him. When that happens, it kind of frees some of the other guys up as well.”
Stanford (18-14) shot well early to build a double-digit lead and shut the Bears down defensively to earn a spot in Thursday’s quarterfinal round against fourth-seeded UCLA.
The fifth-seeded Cardinal held Cal to 28 percent shooting and had a 30-18 advantage in the paint. Travis hit 7 of 11 shots and Dorian Pickens scored 16 points.
“A big emphasis for me is playing with the motor and just trying to get us started the right way when we start the game,” Travis said. “So the more I can do that, the more guys got to start helping down and trying to make the right reads, the right passes.”
No. 12 seed Cal (8-24) closed out a difficult first season under Wyking Jones with its seventh loss in a row and 16th in 17 games.
Darius McNeill led the Bears with 19 points, making 5 of 10 from 3-point range. The rest of the Bears combined to go 2 of 15 from the arc.
“We started off flat,” Jones said. “Didn’t really have a rhythm to start the game, so found ourselves in a hole. It seemed like every time we kind of made a run, they capitalized. They made a play to maintain their lead. Hit a shot, hit a 3, something, every time.”
Cal won the opening game between the rivals during the regular season, beating the Cardinal 77-74 at The Farm for one of their two Pac-12 victories.
Stanford won the rematch in Berkeley 77-73 behind Daejon Davis’ 22 points.
Travis did most of the damage early in round three, scoring 11 points by the midpoint of the first half as Stanford built a 12-point lead.
Travis had 13 points by halftime and the Cardinal led 39-28 after hitting 16 of 29 shots.
“He was just more relentless today,” Jones said. “There were times when Kingsley (Okoroh) came over one-on-one coverage, Kingsley blocked the shot. It’s just he never quit. He never did. He just continued to fight.
Stanford didn’t let up in the second half, extending the lead to 63-39 behind Travis and Pickens.
Cal has nowhere to go but up after setting a school record for losses.
“We’re just going to focus 100 percent on individual improvement,” Jones said. “That’s the first thing that’s on my list. Really spend the spring and summer focusing on getting these guys better.”