Timmy Allen may be the University of Utah’s leading scorer, but it had been a while since the sophomore guard shot the ball well.
Allen was working on more than seven weeks since the last time he shot at least 50% from the floor. Saturday night, with the Utes looking for a Bay Area sweep vs. Cal, was as good a time as any for Allen to bust loose.
Allen scored 16 of his game-high 21 points after halftime, including 14 of the Utes’ final 20 to help them put away the Golden Bears, 60-45, before an announced crowd of 10,766 at the Huntsman Center.
The Utes (14-9, 5-6 Pac-12) completed their fifth consecutive home sweep of the Bay Area schools, and moved to 10-1 at the Huntsman Center on the season. Utah defeated Stanford in overtime on Thursday night, 64-56.
“Man, I’ve been missing shots I should make, and I still did today truthfully,” said Allen, who is now averaging 18.4 points on 43.8% shooting through 23 games. “It feels cool, but I got a lot more work to do. I’m just glad we got the W. That’s the only thing that matters, so we’ll just move on from here.”
“The type of shots I think are as important,” said Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak, who noted Allen is drawing more double teams around the rim against the Pac-12 teams. “When you look at some of those field-goal percentages when you’re trying to force shots over big bodies, it’s a low-percentage shot.
“We've got to continue to work on it, but it's a fine line, too, because he's super-capable of getting some buckets, as you witnessed.”
There were no long scoring droughts, which have marked recent games, but Allen’s offensive explosion came on a night when Utah’s offense as a whole was a bit of a mixed bag. The Utes shot 45.3% from the floor, above their season average, but just 27.8% from 3-point range, with Allen standing as the only Ute in double figures.
Utah’s defense, though, was constant. Nothing came easy for the Golden Bears (10-13, 4-6 Pac-12), who shot just 32% for the night and 28% from 3-point range. Their 16 field goals are a season-low this season for a Utah opponent.
Cal star sophomore Matt Bradley was added to the list of quality Pac-12 players Utah has effectively game-planned for. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, but shot just 5 for 13.
“We had a good week of practice, I thought we had a good game plan for both of the Bay Area schools, and I think we’ve made some good strides in our pick-and-roll coverage,” Krystkowiak said. “Our bigs did a really good job, I thought our guards were solid, too.
“We had very few breakdowns and 21 deflections in a game with some active hands. I thought we made strides as a team defensively.”
Both Gach missed his fourth consecutive game with what Krystkowiak has categorized as a knee injury. Like Thursday against Stanford, the sophomore wing did not warm up at all, instead emerging from the tunnel an hour before tip-off in street clothes.
With Utah playing at Oregon State on Thursday and Oregon on Sunday, Gach’s availability for that road trip is unknown.