Utah basketball: Utes can't contain Allen Crabbe
For one of the first times all season, Utah was victimized by an elite scorer.
Shabazz Muhammad. Brock Motum. C.J. Wilcox. Jahii Carson. All of them have been held in check by Larry Krystkowiak's suffocating man defense.
And then, there's Allen Crabbe.
A 6-foot-6 shooting guard, Crabbe bucked the trend on Thursday night, lighting Utah up for a game-high 23 points in a 62-57 win at the Huntsman Center. Each point was gut-wrenching, each jumper that swished through the net a dagger.
"We certainly didn't treat Crabbe like he was one of the top scorers in the league," Krystkowiak said. "We didn't pay attention to detail. We didn't close out on him as well as we would like. We know what he likes to do, and we didn't stop what he likes tonight."
A catch-and-shoot type of player, Crabbe hit 4 of 6 from 3-point range. In a 15-2 run midway through the first half, Crabbe scored eight consecutive points.
He got to the basket when he needed to. He knocked down most of his free throws, and he added five rebounds.
Crabbe dominated on Thursday night and carried his team, as Tyrone Wallace was the only other Cal player to score in double digits. He had 12 to go along with eight assists.
"I put that on me," senior forward Cedric Martin said. "I didn't close out on him well enough. I didn't do what I needed on him. I take the blame on that, and I have to be better in the long run."
Utah employed a box-and-one defense on Crabbe for large stretches, but that didn't work, either. With his height, he was able to elevate over defenders and shoot. He knocked down two free throws in the waning seconds to seal the win.