Runnin’ Utes trample Cal Bears

Utah vs. California, NCAA college basketball, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Sedrick Barefield scored 14 and Utah defeated California 74-44 in Pac-12 action on Thursday night.

utesThe Utes stayed alive in their pursuit of a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The top four teams in the standings earn a bye and Utah (19-10, 10-7) and Cal (19-10, 10-7) are now tied in the fourth slot.

The 30-point win over Cal is the largest Utah has in the series dating back to 1940.

Utah blew the doors open with a 32-10 run after the teams were tied at six apiece and took a 42-22 lead into halftime. The Cal defense struggled to stay in front of anyone and the Utes’ first 14 points all came from inside the paint. Utah then dropped back-to-back 3-pointers from Barefield and Lorenzo Bonam to jumpstart the rout.

David Collette and Kyle Kuzma scored 12 apiece and Bonam finished with 11.

Utah guard Sedrick Barefield (2) goes to the basket as California forward Ivan Rabb, rear, defends during the second half in an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Utes shot 51.6 percent from the field in the first half and scored more points in the paint (24) than Cal totaled in the first 20 minutes. The Golden Bears shot a miserable 30 percent from the field in the first half and never found any flow offensively.

Cal’s Jabari Bird and Ivan Rabb came into the game averaging a combined 29.3 points per game as the Bears’ top two scorers, but were a combined 1 for 5 from the field in the half. They finished with 14 combined points.

The Utes cruised to victory in the second half.

Grant Mullins led the Golden Bears with 11 points.

BIG PICTURE

California: The Golden Bears had the opportunity to lock up the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and the first-round bye. They still own the tiebreaker against Utah, but now Saturday’s road game against Colorado becomes a must win.

Utah: The Utes are in a wonderful spot considering they went 3-4 in February and are without starter Devon Daniels, who was suspended indefinitely a week ago. Utah has been inconsistent all year, but finds itself one win from its fourth consecutive 20-win season and still in contention for that first-round bye.

SEASON LOWS

Cal was held to season lows in field goal percentage (23.1), 3-point percentage (11.1) and assists (three).

UP NEXT

California: The Golden Bears travel to face Colorado in their regular-season finale Saturday.

Utah: The Utes host Stanford in their regular-season finale Saturday.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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