Utah basketball: A week after blowout, Cal shows more toughness than Utes

First Published      Last Updated Mar 09 2017 09:52 pm

In focus » A week after being blown out by Utah, the Golden Bears display improved toughness.

Las Vegas • Among the most discouraging statistics Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak found at halftime was that between all of his big men, they had gotten only a single rebound.

It was a symptom of a larger issue that plagued Utah in Thursday's 78-75 loss to Cal: The Golden Bears played tougher than Utah did.

"We got punked," Kyle Kuzma said in the locker room. "They played bigger than us."

It's certainly the case that Cal is bigger than most teams: Between 6-foot-11 Ivan Rabb, 7-foot Kingsley Okoroh and 7-foot Kameron Rooks, they have length to spare. But unlike last week, when Utah bullied Cal on the glass and in many other categories in a 74-44 blowout, the Golden Bears played up to their stature.

Before the game, Rabb detailed some of the things he would want to change about the meeting between the teams last week at the Huntsman Center: The Bears wanted to rebound better, defend better and turn over the ball less. In each goal, they succeeded.

"Up at their place, they really got into us," said Jabari Bird, who had 26 points, went 8 for 9 at the line, and had five rebounds. "They brought the game to us, and we didn't respond. And today, we remembered. We came prepared for battle, and it showed."

Krystkowiak harped on the "energy statistics" that Utah lost, and the difference was considerable: Cal had 17 second-chance points to Utah's 10 and 12 offensive rebounds to Utah's six. The big winner from the week before for Utah ­— fastbreak points — was reduced from 16 to two.

Rabb said Cal wasn't motivated by losing fourth place in the league or missing out on a bye. They were just mad to have been beaten.

After the latest meeting, Utah understood how the Bears had felt.

"We just didn't get it done," sophomore Sedrick Barefield said. "It came down to defense and rebounding. And we just didn't get it done."


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