College hoops: Cal loss gives Utah ‘lost weekend’ in Pac-12 play

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — A rough shooting night Sunday against Cal sent Utah to its second straight road loss in California.

“It was an effort,” Runnin’ Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ”The guys hung in there, I thought, and managed to keep it in striking distance. I thought the end of the first half and a nice little stretch up until the end of the game when it got away from us was decent. We were persistent and hung in there.”

uta11That’s about all that Utah will want to remember from its lost weekend out West.

Jakob Poeltl led Utah (11-4, 0-2) with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Kevin Taylor added 15 points.

Coming off an overtime loss to Stanford on Friday night, the Utes were held to 22 points in the first 20 minutes and didn’t make their best run until midway through the second half after falling behind by 12.

But Utah couldn’t sustain the brief surge and made only three baskets over the final eight minutes of the contest.

”I thought our guys stayed with it and kept their composure,” California coach Cuonzo Martin said. ”When you have a level of toughness to you and an edge and a defensive identity, you have a chance to be very successful.”

Ivan Rabb had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Mathews added 14 points, hitting two late 3-pointers, and Tyrone Wallace had 10 points and six assists for the Golden Bears (12-3, 2-0 Pac-12).

Brandon Taylor had 15 points for Utah. | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics
Brandon Taylor had 15 points for Utah. | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

After Utah cut it to 52-48 on Poeltl’s two free throws with 7:08 remaining, Rabb had a three-point play and Mathews followed with a 3-pointer. Brandon Taylor made two free throws for the Utes, but Rabb scored Cal’s next eight points, including a 16-foot turnaround jumper from the baseline to help keep the Bears unbeaten at home.

Cal built an early double-digit lead despite 7-foot starting center Kameron Rooks and 7-1 backup Kingsley Okoroh in foul trouble with three apiece.

With both big men on the bench late, though, the Utes took advantage and closed to 26-22 at halftime. Poeltl led Utah’s surge with five points – including three free throws – over the final 2:37.

Game notes: Kyle Kuzma left the game with 16:08 left to play after taking a hard fall when his attempted one-handed dunk was blocked by Okoroh. Kuzma limped off the court and finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. … The Utes missed six of their first seven 3-point shots. … Utah’s 22 points were the second-fewest it has scored in a first half this season … Okoroh, coming off the best game of his career when he had 10 points and four blocked shots against Colorado, was in foul trouble most of the night and was held scoreless. He had five rebounds and three blocked shots … Cal is giving up an average of 60 points over its past seven games … Poeltl, considered one of the top big men in the Pac-12, with his shot most of the night, going 6 of 14 while battling Okoroh and Rooks most of the game. ”It’s hard to shoot shots over those guys,” Martin said. ”As talented as Poeltl is, Kam and King are big guys. You’re not just going to shoot easy shots.”

UP NEXT — Utah is at Colorado Friday night.

Stats: utacal1316

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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