It’s hard to know where to start when preparing for the California Golden Bears.
For Utah, it won’t be with the film of its 36-point loss to the Bears in Berkeley on Jan. 14.
“There’s not a whole lot of stuff that we can take from that one that wouldn’t be embarrassing,” coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
And it can’t be with any of Cal’s four players who average double-digit points.
“If you did have the defensive stopper that could take somebody out,” Krystkowiak said, “they’ve got plenty of other weapons.”
The Utes will face what should be its stiffest remaining challenge on Thursday — not that any game is ever easy for these Utes — when they host Cal at the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m. A loss will extend the Utes’ string of them to eight and tie the season’s longest winless stretch.
Cal comes to Salt Lake City tied with Washington for first place in the Pac-12. Krystkowiak calls them one of the two most talented teams in the conference, a label undisputed after the blowout in the Bay Area last month.
“The main thing I remember is the three guards,” Utah junior Cedric Martin said.
That’s a starting point with the Bears.
Guard Allen Crabbe, a former Utah recruit, leads Cal with 15.6 points per game, while Jorge Gutierrez averages 13.6 to go along with point guard Justin Cobbs’s 13.2.
And then there’s 6-foot-8 forward Harper Kamp, against whom no one from Utah matches up well.
Gutierrez led Cal in the teams’ last meeting with 15 points. Both Martin and Chris Hines said Gutierrez was the toughest — if not the most talented — player they’ve faced this season.
The Bears sport a lineup that the Utes couldn’t possibly simulate in practice, especially with redshirting transfers Aaron Dotson and Glen Dean both sidelined.
Martin said the Utes should worry less about that.
“The best way to prepare is prepare mentally,” he said, “because obviously we don’t have anybody else in practice that plays like Gutierrez or Cobbs.”
California at Utah
P At the Huntsman Center
Tipoff • Thursday, 7 p.m.
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 5-21 (2-12), Cal 22-6 (12-3)
Series • Cal 10-8
Last meeting • Cal 81-45 (Jan. 14)
About the Utes • In Pac-12 Conference games, junior guard Chris Hines leads the Utes with 10.9 points per game. … The last time the teams met, in Berkeley, guard Josh Watkins led the Utes with 15 points. It was Watkins’ last game before he was dismissed from the team. … Junior center Jason Washburn has scored in double figures three of the last four games.
About the Golden Bears • Four Cal players average double-figure scoring, led by sophomore guard Allen Crabbe’s 15.6 points per game. … Coach Mike Montgomery was Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak’s coach at Montana. … The Bears are tied with Washington for first place in the Pac-12 and have won five straight games.