College hoops: Poeltl powers Runnin’ Utes past Cal Bears

Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Jakob Poeltl had 21 points and nine rebounds to power Utah past California 73-64 on Wednesday night.

Brandon Taylor and Kyle Kuzma added 15 points apiece for the Utes (16-5, 5-3 Pac-12), who have won four straight games.

basketball-ballrunningutes2Jaylen Brown matched his career-high with 27 points and Ivan Rabb had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Bears (14-7, 4-4), who again struggled on the road – falling to 1-5 away from home.

Poeltl was a focus of the Cal defense but he still went 7 for 10 from the field.

Down five in the second half, the Utes went on a 23-4 run to take control. During the surge, Taylor made back-to-back 3-pointers, Poeltl had a dunk and then a 3-point play and Kuzma completed the spurt with six consecutive points. Utah led 58-44 with 10:24 to play.

“They made a couple of plays. I think it had more to do with our breakdown,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought they did a really good job of attacking, especially at the baseline, trying to make plays, and forcing them to make decisions.”

Jakob Poeltl, file photo from Utah vs. Idaho State, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 27, 2015 | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics
Jakob Poeltl, file photo from Utah vs. Idaho State, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 27, 2015 | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

Utah shot 48 percent from the floor in the game to Cal’s 38 percent. Poeltl was only 7 for 14 from the free throw line.

“Obviously we still have things to work on but it feels great to come out and win a couple games in a row especially after that rough start,” Poeltl said. “I’m glad we are in this position right now, but we have to keep going. This is a very tight league right now and if you want to win it you have to keep winning games and especially home games.”

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said his team’s defense was the difference.

“There is a lot of fire power out there and it’s not a matter of us shutting anybody down and playing a perfect game,” he said. “It is about making things really hard for the opponent consistently and not give up easy opportunities. Those guys knew they were in for a game. We’re really defending. If I’m not mistaken, we are leading the conference in a lot of defensive statistics and it’s carrying us.”

UP NEXT

Utah closes out its two-game home stand this Saturday, Jan. 30, hosting Stanford (11-8, 4-4) at the Huntsman Center. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

Stats: utacal12816

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