The Utes used one of their best defensive efforts of the season to cruise past a struggling Cal team. While the Utes themselves have been prone to ups and downs throughout this season, they were the steady force on a night when there were plenty of potential distractions.

Utah held the Bears to the lowest point total of any Utah opponent this season and appeared to score any way it wanted in a 77-43 win in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Saturday night. The win capped an emotional day in which the team attended the funeral service of longtime supporter Jon M. Huntsman Sr., whom both the arena and the basketball facility are named after.

The university also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Final Four team on Saturday with players from that team in attendance for the game and honored at halftime. Several players visited with the team.

“It’s been a long day,” Utes senior guards Justin Bibbins said. “The funeral was nice, but it’s always tough making that shift from going to a funeral and then having to lock in to a game plan and realize you have a game that same day. It’s just been a long day, but once the lights turn on and the basketball goes up, that all goes away. You just got to play basketball.”

The Utes (15-9, 7-6) navigated the day’s events deftly. Senior forward David Collette scored 18 points in 19 minutes on 9-of-10 shooting, while Bibbins scored 15 points and made four 3-pointers. Junior guard Sedrick Barefield scored 13 points a registered five assists.

Senior forward Tyler Rawson scored seven points and dished out a team-high eight assists. The Utes matched a season high with 24 assists — on 28 made baskets.

“We had our team here for Jon’s service. It was one of the coolest funerals I’ve ever been involved with,” Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “I think we can all take a page out of how he lived, in terms of not putting himself at the top of the totem pole. …

“There are not many people on this planet — certainly no one that I’ve ever met — that has done more for other people, and I think that theme needed to carry through to the basketball game tonight. We were looking out for each other, and Jon was looking down.”

Collette’s layup off of a feed from Rawson — his seventh assist of the half — gave the Utes a 19-point lead, 40-21, with 59 seconds remaining. Don Coleman hit a 3-pointer from the corner while falling down at the buzzer to get the Bears (8-18, 2-11) within 16 points, 40-24, at halftime.

The Bears finished the first half with more turnovers (11) than field goals (nine), and for the second consecutive game the Utes held an opponent to less than 40 percent shooting in the first half. The Bears entered the night ranked last in the Pac-12 in points per game (70.3), shooting percentage (42 percent) and 3-point shooting (31 percent).

The Utes pushed their lead to 20 points, 46-26, when Barefield pump faked, penetrated and shoveled off a pass to Collette for an emphatic two-handed dunk with 15:29 left in the game.

Utes bench players like Parker Van Dyke, Jayce Johnson, Chris Seeley and Donnie Tillman, who did not dress for Thursday’s game, played the majority of the second half.

Utes senior wing Gabe Bealer did not play because he tweaked his knee earlier in the day at shootaround.


Utah routs Cal to move above .500 in Pac-12 play at 7-6.

Seniors David Collette scores 18 points in 19 minutes.

The Utes hold Cal to the lowest point total of any opponent this season.